Is It Better to Be Married or Single?

WebMD Blog:

Is It Better to Be Married or Single?

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD


Ever wondered whether it’s better to be married or single? The question itself sets up the false premise that there is a right answer. The truth is that there are benefits and drawbacks to these potentially very different lifestyles. And, even more to the point, this decision is more about what’s right for you than what any research or expert has to say.

If you are most comfortable being part of a committed couple, then there are no facts or arguments that will make being single right for you. And, if you are most comfortable being single, then no facts or arguments will make being married right for you. Of course, life experience has a way of changing people’s minds – even about things they were sure of. And this is especially true in the domain of love – as so many Hollywood movies remind us. Still, to be true to yourself, you need to respect who you are now.

For those who lean toward wanting a single life, there are certainly some important benefits. While everyone has obligations and responsibilities, life has less of them when you are single. And without a partner to take up much of your free time, you have more opportunity to devote to other activities. You can spend more time with friends and family. You can devote yourself more to work without having to be concerned about how this affects a spouse. And you can get more fully involved with your personal interests and hobbies. Still, when life gets tough, you may not have a built-in support system – though many people do create this for themselves with other family and friends.

As a married person, you can enjoy different benefits. You know that you have a special someone to share in life’s joys with and to help you through life’s difficult times. Sex may be more available to you than if you were single. You and your spouse might also share important personal interests. In addition, there is the financial advantage of pooling your money and not having to worry as much about one of you losing income. Of course, if your marriage is not healthy (or you don’t really want to be married), many of these potential advantages may not really be there for you, or they may be less strong.

So, it’s not really a question of which is better. The more essential issue is figuring out what is best for you. To do this, you have to know and be honest with yourself. And this is where many people go wrong. Some people have been deeply hurt, and so they commit to a life of being single; but they do it to protect themselves from further pain rather than because they are truly happy being single. On the other hand, some people agree to marriage because others expect it of them. Maybe they really want to be single. Or maybe they just don’t want to be with the particular person they have chosen. In both cases, to have a chance at happiness, they must be honest with themselves and those they love.

Almost all people need personal relationships to help them feel fulfilled and happy in life. But are you someone who needs a committed partner? Or, are you happier with the greater freedom that being single allows? Whether it’s better to be married or single is a personal truth that you must discover within you.


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