Why Marriage Matters

Marriage is the greatest guaranteer of childhood well being and the antecedent to much personal and familial flourishing.

Marriage & Culture

  • What does marriage mean for children?
  • What does marriage mean for children?

    Marriage protects children's physical and mental health, providing them with a deep measure of emotional and financial security. Children whose parents get and stay married are healthier and also much less likely to suffer mental illness, including depression and teen suicide. These benefits are then passed on to future generations as well, because children raised by their married mother and father are themselves less likely to cohabit or to divorce as adults.

  • Does society draw any real benefits from marriage?
  • Does society draw any real benefits from marriage?

    Yes. Married people have higher educational attainment, reduced sexual activity and pregnancy outside of marriage, lower crimes rates, and increased personal happiness. Mortality rates are much higher for unmarried women and men than they are for married women and men. In addition, married women are less likely to be victims of domestic violence than single women. Additionally, marriage has an undeniable domesticating influence on men that is good for society, and for the children fathered by married men.

  • With so many young people cohabitating, isn't marriage an antiquated ideal?
  • With so many young people cohabitating, isn't marriage an antiquated ideal?

    Compared with married couples, cohabitors report higher levels of alcohol problems, aggression, poor communication, depression, and women being assaulted (Diocese of Saint Cloud ). Married couples who cohabit first are thirty to fifty percent more likely to divorce. In addition, children whose parents cohabit are at increased risk for domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. Children born to parents who were just living together are also three times more likely to experience their parents breakup by age five (www.nationformarriage.org).

  • How does marriage affect men and women?
  • How does marriage affect men?

    1) Marriage encourages better relationships between fathers and children.
    2) Married men earn 10-40% more than similar unmarried men.
    3) Married men gain substantial physical health benefits.
    4) Married men have lower levels of testosterone which is associated with a reduction in aggressive and risky behavior, as well as promiscuity.
    5) Married men are less likely to have alcohol and drug addictions, to commit crime, and to be abusive (www.usccb.org).

    How does marriage affect women?

    1) Compared to unmarried women, married women without children have higher incomes and married mothers are less likely to live in poverty.
    2) For women, marriage combats depression, provides particularly high psychological benefits, and significantly lowers the risk of suicide.
    3) Marriage normally decreases the likelihood that a woman will be domestically abused. Only 5% of married women report abuse compared to 14% of cohabiting women (www.usccb.org).

FRC's Dr. Pat Fagan responds to our readers' questions:


"Does living together before getting married make for more successful relationships?"


"Studies show the mere act of cohabiting before marriage increases a couple's odds of divorce by 50 percent" (read on at Marriagesavers.com). Compared with married couples, cohabitors report higher levels of alcohol problems, aggression, poor communication, depression, and women being assaulted (read on Diocese of St. Cloud). "The evidence suggests that living together has weakened marriage and the intact, two-parent family and thereby damaged our social well-being, especially that of women and children" (read on at Smartmarriages.com).