Too many American men view marriage as weighing them down with a ball and chain, overlooking the many benefits that accrue from having a spouse — from more money and a better sex life to significantly better physical and mental health.

The marriage rate in the U.S. continues to decline and the view that marriage entails a “lack of freedom” is becoming more entrenched, particularly among younger men, according to researchers Nicholas H. Wolfinger and W. Bradford Wilcox. This can be seen in the recent rise to prominence of the Men Going Their Own Way movement.

In a research brief published Tuesday by the Institute for Family Studies, Wolfinger and Wilcox say more education is needed to ensure younger people know the “truth about marriage.” The Institute focuses on strengthening marriage and family life.

Wolfinger is a professor in the University of Utah’s Department of Family and Consumer Studies. Wilcox is a professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, as well as a senior fellow of the Institute for Family Studies. They are co-authors of “Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage Among African Americans and Latinos.”

The Pew Research Center reported in 2014 that the share of American adults who have never been married is at a record high (20 percent), particularly among young adults.

But research shows there is a “marriage premium” for men that includes:

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Nick Wolfinger

Percent of adults currently married

  • A financial return that includes higher earnings, more assets and more job stability. Married men make about $16,000 more than their single peers with otherwise similar backgrounds.
  • Better sex lives compared to both single and cohabiting men. According to data from the National Health and Social Life Survey, 51 percent of married men reported they were extremely emotionally satisfied with sex, compared to 39 percent of cohabiting men and 36 percent of single men.
  • Longer lives. Men who get and stay married live almost 10 years longer than their unmarried peers. Also, young married men are about twice as happy: 43 percent of married men report they are “very happy” with life, compared to 20 percent of single men and 24 percent of cohabiting men.

“Marriage is broadly beneficial to men and women alike, and many of these benefits appear to be causal,” Wolfinger said. “In other words, they’re a direct benefit of marriage itself, and not simply a benefit of the fact that happier, healthier, and wealthier men are more likely to get married in the first place.”

The research brief can be found here.

Media Contacts

Nicholas H. Wolfingerprofessor, Department of Family and Consumer Studies
Mobile: 801-364-3283

Brooke Adamssenior news writer, University Marketing & Communication
Office: 801-587-2130 Mobile: 801-673-0011