A common phrase heard over and over during my schooling was “married individuals are happier, healthier, and make more money.” This can seem hard to believe as my husband and I experience the struggle to pay bills and survive the tension of weekly budgets. However the financial benefits of marriage are proven and have been documented multiple times. One study found that “on average, married people each generate 4 percent more wealth per year than singles. Over time, that means married people accumulate twice the wealth of singles, on average, and couples end up with four times the combined wealth of a single person.”
Many factors contribute to this “marriage advantage;” the level of commitment in marriage, the pooling of resources, and the documented effects of marriage on men.
Level of Commitment
Marriage demands a higher level of commitment than other relationships. It has the expectation of permanence and exclusivity. Because of this couples invest together for the long term. This explains why married couples are more likely to be home owners, have savings, and plan for retirement. Married couples are seven times more likely to own their own home than singles.
Pooling of Resources
Couples also have the benefit of pooling their resources when they are married. For two people they only pay one rent and one set of utilities. They can “ride share,” saving on car and gas expenses, buy food in bulk without it going bad as fast, and divide up chores and household duties.
One example of this is shared meal preparation. When living alone cooking meals every night gets mundane and doesn’t always fit into schedules. Couples can take turns preparing meals, and the other can step up when one spouse might be running late. Result? Married couples eat out less often and buy fewer frozen dinners.
Child care is one of the more costly expenses that parents have. Spouses can pool their resources here, as well, to reduce and even eliminate the cost of childcare. Many couples I know plan work schedules so that one parent is in the home to care for children while the other parent works. Split-shift parenting allows parents to reduce or eliminate the amount of time a child spends in daycare by adjusting to each other’s schedules.
Spouses also tend to combine their income. Rather than each partner paying for his/her set of expenses and managing money separately, married couples tend to combine their income and manage bills and expenses together.
Transformative Effect on Husbands:
Brad Wilcox, a well-known educator and popular speaker, stated that “Marriage has a transformative effect on adult behavior, emotional health, and financial well-being—particularly for men.” Men show better work habits once they are married. They work harder, earn more money, and are more conscious about the effect of work on life.
Marriage focuses men on their role as providers and they tend to start looking for opportunities to make more money and work harder. Married men are also less likely to quit a job before another one is secured, and they are less likely to get fired. Result? They earn more money on average than their single counterparts.
Marriage really does make a difference in the financial well-being of individuals, and as those benefits are accumulated over the years a large difference begins to be manifest. After ten years of marriage, one study showed that married couples reported an average net worth approximately 4 times greater than their single counterparts. Finances are just another way that marriage benefits individuals and society.