It’s self-evident that Darren Star was brought to the universe in order to create Sex & the City which, in turn, would teach everyone on the brink of a new, enlightened millennium that it was okay to be 35 years old and single. According to the show, single people could live full, meaningful lives and perhaps even reap benefits that married folks could not (for example: tons of sex with lots of different people). Well, apparently we were wrong. Science says so.
Researchers John F. Helliwell and Shawn Grover used the Gallup World Poll and other British studies to determine that there is a direct relationship between marriage and levels of happiness. In layman’s terms: people who are sharing more than just a bed, i.e. mortgage, kids, dinnertime, etc. are happier than you lonely, worthless single people eating ramen noodles alone on a Saturday night.
Helliwell and Grover found that after marriage, individuals in relationships reported very high levels of happiness. It also serves as a cushion for life’s hardest time, between the ages of 40 and 60, when people’s happiness levels drop. Being married apparently gives you an edge over your 50-year-old single contemporaries.
However, there is some fine print: the happier people in the study were not only married but also reported being their partner’s “friend” – an important distinction. In fact, the happiest couples in the study were comprised of people who had married their best friend. It was precisely the friendship element which actually caused the relationship between happiness and marriage. So, alternatively, if you’re married, but hate your wife, guess what? You’re not actually any happier than a single person.
Additionally, the research showed that the friendship factor increased happiness for couples who lived together but were not legally married. So, it is not the trappings of marriage but a relationship with the qualities of friendship that will make you truly happy.