When a couple gets married, who gets the better deal?
Although men make jokes about marriage — “Take my wife . . . please” — the truth is they have more to gain from the union than women.
A recent article in a Harvard Medical School Journal cites evidence that married men are healthier and live longer than their single counterparts.
At the same time, a Michigan State University study concludes married men are also happier than bachelors. The researchers believe, “People, on average, aren’t happier following marriage than they were before marriage, but they are happier than they would have been if they stayed single.”
And, yes, married men are also better off financially than singles. According to the Washington Post married men work harder, work more strategically and make more money than their single peers of similar social-economic background.
While women gain many of the same benefits as men through marriage, they are (surprisingly — at least to me) more reluctant to remarry after divorce or widowhood.
According to the Pew Research Center, most currently divorced or widowed men are open to the idea of remarriage, but women in the same circumstances are less likely to be open to the idea. Among previously married men, 65% either want to remarry or are not sure; 30% say that they don’t want to remarry. Among women who are currently divorced or widowed, only 43% say they may want to remarry, while 54% say they’re not interested.
What’s going on here? Why are women less eager to remarry? Is marriage more beneficial to men than women?
When I polled some of my friends, I got some interesting answers:
“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
“Men are clueless. They need a woman just to keep them on track.”
“Men just want a nurse or a purse.”
In an era when women can be financially independent without a husband, are men losing their viability as a life partner? Or is it something else?
I prefer to think that, all things being equal, women have the edge because we are more communal than men. We provide each other with a mutual support system. We pour out our hearts over wine or chocolate. When there’s a death in the family, we bring over a brisket, cookies or casserole. We go to movies and concerts together. This year, many women even celebrated “Galentine’s Day” instead of Valentine’s Day.
Men, at least straight men, traditionally do not provide each other with the same level of emotional support and companionship. They need women for that.
Come to think of it, so do women. It’s just that men have to marry to get it.
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