- Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married
- 13 Legal Benefits of Marriage
- Marital Tax Deduction
- Filing Taxes Jointly
- Social Security Benefits
- Prenuptial Agreement Benefits
- IRA Benefits
- Legal Decision-Making Benefits
- Inheritance Benefits
- Health Insurance Benefits
- Paternity Child Benefits
- Leave Benefits
- The Emotional Benefits of Marriage
- Longer Life
- Less Chance of Developing Depression
- Increased Serotonin Levels (a Natural Antidepressant)
- Marriage 101
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Keeping Assets Separate in Marriage
- Marital property
- Separate property
- Common mix-ups
- A final word
- 101 Reasons to Get (and Stay!) Married
Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married
Continue reading the main story
A new economics paper has some old-fashioned advice for people navigating the stresses of life: Find a spouse who is also your best friend.
Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more ly to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.
It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, midlife crises.
Even as fewer people are marrying, the disadvantages of remaining single have broad implications. It’s important because marriage is increasingly a force behind inequality.
Stable marriages are more common among educated, high-income people, and increasingly reach for those who are not.
That divide appears to affect not just people’s income and family stability, but also their happiness and stress levels.
A quarter of today’s young adults will have never married by 2030, which would be the highest share in modern history, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet both remaining unmarried and divorcing are more common among less-educated, lower-income people. Educated, high-income people still marry at high rates and are less ly to divorce.
Those whose lives are most difficult could benefit most from marriage, according to the economists who wrote the new paper, John Helliwell of the Vancouver School of Economics and Shawn Grover of the Canadian Department of Finance. “Marriage may be most important when there is that stress in life and when things are going wrong,” Mr. Grover said.
They analyzed data about well-being from two national surveys in the United Kingdom and the Gallup World Poll. In all but a few parts of the world, even when controlling for people’s life satisfaction before marriage, being married made them happier. This conclusion, however, did not hold true in Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Intriguingly, marital happiness long outlasted the honeymoon period. Though some social scientists have argued that happiness levels are innate, so people return to their natural level of well-being after joyful or upsetting events, the researchers found that the benefits of marriage persist.
One reason for that might be the role of friendship within marriage. Those who consider their spouse or partner to be their best friend get about twice as much life satisfaction from marriage as others, the study found.
The effect of friendship seems to be the result of living with a romantic partner, rather than the legal status of being married, because it was as strong for people who lived together but weren’t married. Women benefit more from being married to their best friend than men do, though women are less ly to regard their spouse as their best friend.
“What immediately intrigued me about the results was to rethink marriage as a whole,” Mr. Helliwell said. “Maybe what is really important is friendship, and to never forget that in the push and pull of daily life.”
Marriage has undergone a drastic shift in the last half century. In the past, as the Nobel-winning economist Gary Becker described, marriage was utilitarian: Women looked for a husband to make money and men looked for a woman to manage the household.
But in recent decades, the roles of men and women have become more similar. As a result, spouses have taken on roles as companions and confidants, particularly those who are financially stable, as the economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have discussed.
The benefits of marital friendship are most vivid during middle age, when people tend to experience a dip in life satisfaction, largely because career and family demands apply the most stress then. Those who are married, the new paper found, have much shallower dips – even in regions where marriage does not have an overall positive effect.
“The biggest benefits come in high-stress environments, and people who are married can handle midlife stress better than those who aren’t because they have a shared load and shared friendship,” Mr. Helliwell said.
Overall, the research comes to a largely optimistic conclusion. People have the capacity to increase their happiness levels and avoid falling deep into midlife crisis by finding support in long-term relationships. Yet those relationships seem to be less achievable for the least advantaged members of society.
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13 Legal Benefits of Marriage
Aside from scoring some pretty awesome monogrammed towels and sheets (oh, and your amazing new wife or husband!), there are even more benefits to marriage than you may have thought.
Seriously, did you know that getting married means you could have a leg up in receiving benefits, rights and privileges under Social Security and estate laws, government benefits and eligibility for joint health insurance policies and family discounts from employers? Simply put, the perks of marriage are many and can simplify plenty of legal issues, which is why we consulted experts to further discuss 13 benefits of marriage.
(Full disclosure: Since some of these topics can be pretty heavy and may require legal guidance, we recommend you consult an attorney and/or accountant in your area for more elaboration.)
Marital Tax Deduction
Unlimited marital tax deduction is the biggest tax benefit a married couple can receive, Blank Rome LLP matrimonial lawyer and partner Dylan S. Mitchell says. “You can transfer an unlimited amount of assets to your spouse at any time, free from tax. That also includes leaving assets in your estate to your spouse without estate or gift tax subjection.”
And just to clarify, gift tax, as defined by the IRS, is a tax on the transfer of property by one individual to another while receiving nothing, or less than full value, in return. So, basically, a gift is giving property or money without expecting to receive equal value in return.
Filing Taxes Jointly
Getting married and filing taxes jointly may or may not help you. “With two high-earning individuals, you could end up paying more in taxes,” Chemtob Moss & Forman LLP matrimonial lawyer and partner Susan M. Moss says. “If one spouse stays at home and the other has a high-paying job—or just a job—it benefits to file jointly.”
If you file taxes separately, you could potentially miss out on those benefits, such as getting to deduct two exemption amounts from your income and qualifying for various tax credits.
Social Security Benefits
If either you or your spouse don't qualify for your own Social Security benefits, you can receive the other spouse's benefits.
The payoff isn't immediate, though—you have to either be at least 62 years old or be any age but caring for a child who can receive benefits and is younger than 16 years old or disabled.
You can also potentially receive Medicare, disability, veterans, military and pension plan benefits through your spouse.
(And although this is a bit of a buzzkill statement, knowledge is power. If your marriage ends but lasted at least 10 years, you may still be able to receive Social Security benefits on your former spouse's record. Aside from that, you'd also have entitlement to spousal support.)
Prenuptial Agreement Benefits
It's presumed under the law that when two people get married, they're creating an economic partnership, Aronson, Mayefsky & Sloan LLP matrimonial lawyer Alyssa A. Rower says.
“If one person spends a substantial amount of time on career and [the] other spends it on raising children, we will compensate the non-monied spouse in a prenuptial agreement by dividing assets fairly between the spouses should the marriage end.”
An Individual Retirement Account can be used a few ways in the course of a marriage, including rolling over a deceased spouse's IRA to your own, or you can contribute to a spousal IRA, which is an account that lets an employed spouse contribute to an unemployed spouse's retirement account. There's one caveat, though: You must file a joint tax return to do this.
Legal Decision-Making Benefits
If you're married, you can have the status as next-of-kin for hospital visits, which grants you the ability to make medical decisions in the event your spouse becomes sick or disabled.
“You also have the legal right to sue for wrongful death of a spouse and have decision-making power with respect to whether a deceased partner will be cremated or not and where to bury him or her,” Schpoont & Cavallo LLP family and matrimonial lawyer and partner Sandra L. Schpoont says.
A spouse can inherit an entire estate without tax consequences. “If the couple is not married, there will be taxes,” Rower says. And if there's no will, a spouse still has inheritance rights when the other spouse dies intestate—meaning a person passed away without making a legal will.
Health Insurance Benefits
If you're married, you can usually get on your spouse's health insurance and get a family rate. This is helpful when one spouse may not have health insurance through their own employer or isn't currently employed.
Paternity Child Benefits
If any issues ever arise over the paternity of a child with a married couple, the married couple may have less of an issue. “If a child is born in New York state to a married couple, there's virtually no issue of paternity,” Mitchell says.
Through your employer you can usually take a family leave if your spouse is sick, or bereavement leave if your spouse or someone in your spouse's immediate family passes away.
The Emotional Benefits of Marriage
While watching bridal TV shows or arriving home to stacks of RSVPs from friends and family is fun, there are many emotional benefits to being married. Beyond the material aspects of marriage, finding love has been linked to prolonging our lives, improving emotional stability and increasing the opportunity for a more positive psychological state of mind.
Research consistently shows that couples in a committed marriage even live longer than those who are single, cohabiting or divorced—but why?
“To start, the emotional support that is possible in a marriage provides each partner with the feeling of being 'heard,'” licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist Shira Burstein says.
“Particularly for men, being in a stable relationship allows men to break outside of gender expectations and roles.
With statements that exist such as 'Men don't cry' or 'Men don't talk about feelings,' having a partner provides a safe space to be able to verbalize emotions, feelings and needs that may often go ignored or suppressed on a regular basis.”
Less Chance of Developing Depression
Keeping thoughts and feelings to yourself can possibly lead to depression, anxiety and greater stress with the increase of ruminating, unyielding self-disparagement.
“Of course, no relationship is perfect, but a healthy, functioning marriage can provide stress and anxiety relief in many different forms: encouraging each other to strive for healthier goals (think: quitting binge drinking, eating healthier, going after that dream job), complimenting each other's positive qualities and celebrating each other's successes,” Burstein says.
Increased Serotonin Levels (a Natural Antidepressant)
Another major mood booster is the more frequent exposure and release of serotonin and testosterone that married couples can experience. (Serotonin is a neurotransmitter created by the human body that's known to maintain mood balance and decrease depression, anxiety and anger.)
“Coming home from a long day of work and having that partner there for physical affection increases positive mood, sex drive and, ultimately, intimacy,” Burstein says.
“Despite the concern that having the same sex partner for the rest of your life means the possibility of sex becoming 'stale' and hot and heavy nights can become few and far between, a partner that is reliably reliable, available, supportive and dedicated in other ways extends overall happiness long-term for a married couple.”
Yes, there's paperwork and legal matters to deal with, but you also get to plan a gorgeous wedding and marry the love of your life (aka the fun part)! Take our Style Quiz to find your dream wedding vision and the right vendors to bring it to life.
When Megan Moore got engaged to Patrick Smith, her grandmother offered a tip for married life: “If you’re ever running late getting his dinner, just set the table; he’ll feel it’s closer to being done that way, even if it isn’t.”Megan’s reaction to the outdated suggestion? “He’ll be so lucky if he gets dinner!” she laughs.
A lot has changed when it comes to being a newlywed, and antiquated advice is second only to gravy boats in terms of overall usefulness once you tie the knot.
Getting dinner on the table takes a backseat to more modern concerns about money and communication, and the best advice about reaching your one-year anniversary doesn’t always come from Grandma (sorry, Nana!)—it comes from fellow brides who’ve already been there.
“We” money vs.
“me” moneyToday the median age at which most Americans get married—26 for women, 28 for men—is the oldest it’s been since the Census began keeping track. That means many couples reach their wedding day with established careers, well-funded 401(k)s and sometimes even two houses.
“Because couples are getting married later both parties are already pretty savvy about money,” says Christina Boyd, first vice president of investments with Merrill Lynch in Wayzata. Yet navigating finances when you marry can be a minefield for even the fiscally mature.
John and Blythe Riske, who were married in November 2008 in Minneapolis, decided to create a joint account for “we” money that each contributes to for bills and rent, while keeping separate “me” money accounts. The eventual goal is to commingle their finances, but it’s a process they decided to ease into after years of being single.
“We’re moving towards combining our finances, but there are still two things I don’t want John to know how much I spend on: my hair and clothes,” jokes Blythe. “But really, combining will be a good exercise in communication and honesty.
”“I personally the idea of pooling assets, but I don’t think people should have to ask someone else every time they want to buy something,” says Boyd. “Everyone should have their own slush fund … in my case, it’s shoe money.
” Boyd adds that getting engaged is a great reason to talk to a financial advisor about future fiscal goals and creating a realistic budget with two incomes.The question of whether to take on a spouse’s debt can be an even tougher decision than joint accounts. Amanda Hart married husband Jake in August 2007 in West Bend, Wis., and both brought significant school loan debt to the union. While uneven debt loads today are often typically kept separate, the Harts decided marriage meant sharing each other’s burdens. “We combined because it makes the payments easier,” Amanda advises. “His debt is mine, and mine is his. It’s something we share.”
The language of marriage
Communication, money, carries a lot more weight once rings are exchanged. According to Boston-based psychologist and couples therapist Dr. Mona Barbera, that can take many newlyweds by surprise. “There’s a lot more riding on good communication once you’re married because you can’t go to someone else for the same things anymore—this is it for you!” she explains. “When you’re dating you can go to your own space to get away, but not when you’re married.”While everyone tries to be on their best behavior during the first year of marriage, walking on eggshells can only be sustained for so long. “There was a point where I finally had to say, ‘We’re not roommates. You have a responsibility to me. We’re a unit,’” explains Megan, who married Patrick in St. Paul in 2006, and initially felt she was taking on more household duties than he was.Barbera says it’s better to speak up, as Megan did, than let things simmer until they boil over; pretending the first year is fault-free just isn’t realistic. “If you don’t say what’s on your mind, resentment starts building,” Barbera explains. “The key is to be calm and collected when you express yourself. It’s easier to hear ‘I’d really it if you didn’t leave your stuff at the door right when you come in’ when it’s not agitated or demanding.”Even if that communication means a husband is in trouble with the wife, Patrick says he prefers honesty to having to interpret alternate meanings. “When you say ‘You can do what you want’ do you mean it, or is it at my peril?” asks Patrick. “I don’t want to guess at what she’s thinking.”And that whole never-go-to-bed-angry idea? Even Barbera says it’s not a rule to live by. “The key to fighting fair is noticing when you’ve become consumed by your anger,” she says. “If you find yourself so angry that you don’t recognize yourself, you need time to recover. Right yourself and then go back to the conversation later, even if it’s the next day.”
When the quirks come out
On your wedding day it’s easy to say you’re marrying your best friend. A month into the marriage, however, you might wonder just who you’ve agreed to “love, honor, and obey”—especially when the quirks start to come out. Unusual habits and hobbies will often reveal themselves in the first year, taking both husband and wife by surprise. For Amanda, the newlywed joy faded a little when she discovered that husband Jake d to clip his toenails and throw the remnants behind the couch. “There was a lot of yelling when I uncovered that,” says Amanda. But fair is fair: “He thinks I slurp too much when I eat cereal and drink coffee,” she adds.Even though Megan and Patrick began dating in their teens (both are now nearly 30) an array of interesting quirks still remained to be discovered once they married, including Patrick’s ideas on interior design. “Megan didn’t know that I have a hard and fast rule about decorative pillows,” explains Patrick. “Every pillow must be functional. I can’t put my head on something with beads on it.”Megan shakes her head. “I never thought Patrick cared about decorating—if you saw his place when he was a bachelor you definitely wouldn’t think so,” says Moore. “But once we moved in together he had a lot of opinions.”
Of course, those quirks can prove beneficial and even complementary. John Riske’s avid interest in high-end cooking—and his desire to be the only chef working in their kitchen—means Blythe regularly enjoys gourmet meals she didn’t have to lift a finger for. “He doesn’t me to cook; the kitchen is his area,” says Blythe, “And I see it as a loving gesture.”
The Do’s and Don’ts of Keeping Assets Separate in Marriage
By Kathleen Nemetz
Learn more about Kathleen on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor
When passion is in its prime, it’s hard to see how finances could turn marital life into a fiasco.
But passion can wane and differences over money can put enormous pressure on a marriage.
Whether you live in a community property state California, you might choose to keep some assets separate in marriage.
To do so, consider consulting with a family law attorney before marriage to create a prenuptial agreement, or if you’re already married, something called a post-nuptial agreement. The need for the latter may arise if you acquire separate property during your marriage.
This can come from an inheritance or a personal injury legal settlement, for example. You might wish to protect the separate asset even while possibly using the income from it for your life as a couple.
But before you begin, there are a few legal definitions you should know:
Marital property definitions can vary by state. That said, husbands and wives are always responsible for the expenses of the family and for the education of their children, including stepchildren.
Laws generally define marital property according to sources of income, and set a fiduciary standard of care for each of the spouses when managing assets that fall into the marital or shared category.
Interestingly, married couples typically file jointly under the federal tax code, but may each be liable for the taxes levied on separate assets or activities.
For instance, one spouse may have business income coming from a pass-through business entity, such as an S-Corporation.
A prenuptial agreement may have defined the business as a separate asset, but the business income may be marital property and the taxes associated with it a marital debt obligation to the U.S. government.
Separate property can be anything you owned before marriage or included in a prenuptial agreement that was explicitly defined and agreed to by your spouse. Separate property can also include gifts and inheritances if kept separate and not commingled with community assets.
Couples often commingle separate and marital property and create potential problems for themselves later. Sometimes one’s spouse incurs debt during the marriage, with the consent of a spouse, but the spouse wishes to be reimbursed in the event of divorce. So try to be as clear and intentional as possible.
Here are some key do’s and don’ts for keeping assets separate in marriage, and for building a successful financial life as a couple.
- Pay attention to the titling of financial accounts. A separate account should be kept in the name of the spouse or in the name of a trust for a spouse, not as a joint account.
- Deposit dividends and interest from a separate investment account into a separate checking account.
- Consider carefully whose name goes on the deed of a house. Without a prenuptial agreement, mortgage and property tax payments made by both spouses using separate incomes can create a marital asset of the house, even if one partner initially purchased it.
- Create a shared household budget. Decide how you and your spouse will share these expenses and manage your finances as if they were all in one pool, for purposes of discussions about budgets, use of credit and tax liability.
- Establish shared long-term goals and the appropriate financial milestones to achieve them.
- Consider reciprocity. If you ask your spouse to relocate to accommodate your next job promotion, consider doing the same for him or her later on. You can also put any promises in writing. Otherwise you might find in the event of a divorce, you are asked to reimburse lost wages or earning power if your spouse suffered a salary cut from the relocation.
- Don’t deposit funds from separate property sources into joint accounts, unless you intend to convert the money to marital property.
- Don’t ignore the appreciation factor in the value of homes or in assets held over the course of a long marriage — especially if your spouse is helping improve a home or trade an investment account to which she or he doesn’t have title. The increase in value may be a jointly claimed asset.
- Don’t reduce family life to an ongoing debate about the numbers. Discuss your life goals and how to finance them openly, and talk about what priorities you may share for the children. Remember to be transparent in discussing what investment of time or money is necessary to realize these goals.
A final word
It’s always important to seek professional advice before discussions become heated. Learn how to choose a financial advisor who suits your needs. Your life as a couple should create bonds on many levels, including one of trust about money.
101 Reasons to Get (and Stay!) Married
For DesireeAuthor’s Note:
Due to the success of 101 Reasons to Stay Single years after it was published (and now that I am, in fact, happily engaged,) I decided to put together a new list– 101 reasons to get (and stay!) Married. Enjoy. 🙂
1. You have an excuse to throw one heck of a party.2. You get the thrill of trying to hide gifts from your partner (and surprising them with those gifts!)3. If you buy something yummy, you can have fun feeding it to each other.4. You end up with twice as much awesome stuff in your house to enjoy.5. You can work on projects, arts and crafts together.6. You don’t have to watch movies at the theater all by yourself.7. You suddenly have an excuse to move to a bigger place.8. You have a reason to eat healthier.9. You have a reason to spend your nights doing something other than surfing for porn.10. You don’t have to be bitter about Valentine’s Day anymore.11. Your family gets bigger.12. You have someone to take roadtrips with.13. You have someone to explore the world with.14. You have a reason to keep from letting your messes get control.15. You have someone to share your dreams and fantasies with.16. You can listen to each other’s problems and help each other through them.17. You have someone else to consider before you make any rash, crazy or destructive decisions.18. You have someone to enjoy your music with.19. Nothing cures headaches a good orgasm.20. There are religious benefits, if you’re into that sort of thing.21. The group of friends you hang out with gets bigger (even if just by one person!)22. Suddenly, you have someone who will share a pizza with you at 3am.23. You can have a beer with someone other than your friends.24. Your friends don’t have to listen to your complaints about being single anymore.25. You have someone to read with (or to!)26. You have someone who will catch you if you fall.27. You can learn to compromise.28. You can learn to listen and be understanding.29. You have an excuse to write love poetry (and leave it for your partner to find.)30. You have someone you can kiss until the sun rises (and wait up for the dawn with.)31. You have someone to talk about your past with.32. You don’t have to sleep alone (or cuddle your pillow)33. You can teach each other things (other than just patience)
34. You don’t have to self-shoot your profile pictures anymore.35. That whole “just friends with benefits” thing? Yeah, never worked for me.36. You don’t have to go out or pay for massages anymore.37. Suddenly you can get hugs pretty much whenever you need them.38. You don’t have to worry about being called a cat lady (or a terminal bachelor!)39.
You have an excuse to cook something more healthy (and more substantial) than just a frozen burrito.40. You have someone to celebrate your successes with.41. You have someone rooting for you to succeed.42. You have someone to stand by you during the hard times.43. Suddenly you have someone other than your pet who you get to buy surprises for.44.
You have an excuse to keep yourself in shape.45. Married people are happier on average anyway.46. You don’t have to go into adult shops alone (or feel creepy doing it)47. You have someone to share a nice, romantic candle-lit bath with.48. There are no problems, only solutions.49. You don’t have to keep your deepest secrets bottled up inside anymore.50.
You have someone (besides your mom) to make stuff for.51. You don’t have to travel alone anymore.52. Someone besides you actually cares how your day went.53. You have someone to dance with.54. Together, you can do anything.55. Romantic songs start to make you happy (instead of sad or angry.)56.
You have someone to hold (or who will hold you) when things get really hard.57. You have someone to protect (or who will protect you) when faced with danger.58. You have somewhere else to be (when you can’t wait to get some situation or another.)59. You get an awesome excuse to wear an awesome ring.60.
You have an excuse to celebrate holidays even when your family isn’t anywhere nearby.61. You have an excuse to create new traditions.62. If you learn a new language together, you have someone to practice it with.63. You have someone you can be silly with who won’t judge you for it.64. You have an excuse to be a lady (or a gentleman)65.
You can do cute things ( calling a radio station you know your partner is listening to and dedicate a song to them.)66. You have someone else’s hair to play with other than your own.
67. You have a good reason to stay positive and not be a downer.68. You have an excuse to wake someone up with kisses.67. You have someone to remind you of all the things you have to be grateful for.68. You have someone you can be yourself around (instead of feeling you always have to fit in.)69.
You have someone else who believes in your dreams and your ability to succeed.70. You don’t have to brave the dating scene anymore (or risk ending up in a relationship with someone who is totally nuts!)71. You can throw away that tattered memo on your desk that says “Stay strong! Stay single as long as you can!”72.
You have someone who is willing to wash your back for you.73. A good relationship is a cushion of air that lifts you up and keeps you flying all day long.74. You can live all the really juicy (and dangerous) stories vicariously through your single friends instead of first hand.75.
Any children you have will have more than one person to take care of them (and for them to look up to)76. You have someone you can be eccentric or artistic with.77. Say goodbye to heartache, dumping, and being dumped.78. Love is a powerful armor for your self esteem.79.
You have two brains full of knowledge to draw from in a given situation (instead of just one.)80. You have an excuse not to spend your whole life working.81. You have someone to come home to (or who can come home to you.)82. Happy people (i.e. people in good relationships!) are less ly to spend all their money on things they don’t need.83.
It gives your grandparents something grand to be happy about.84. Telling someone you want to spend your life with them (and them alone) is a powerful way to say “I love you.”85. You don’t have to clean alone.86. It’s easier to spot cool things in stores – – two sets of eyes!87.
Suddenly there is someone (other than your mom) who appreciates your art.88. You get the wonderful boost of a kiss on the way out the door.89. You have someone to call you on it (or warn you) when you make a bad judgement.90. You have someone to try new foods with (and cook with!)91. You get to take time off from work for your honeymoon.92.
Happiness is infectious.93. You get to enjoy the small things, watching how your partner dresses themselves.94. You can experience the wonderful dualism of a partnership.95. It is easier to see your own shortcomings through the eyes of another.96. Suddenly, you have a reason not to walk away from it all.97.
If your work schedules are different, there’s almost always someone home (and that makes for a safer house!)98. You can make it romantic and get remarried over and over again.99. You have a constant companion who you can walk with, run with and enjoy life with.100. Suddenly you have proof that happy endings really do happen (and they’re just the beginning!)
101. Suddenly, there is someone in your life who makes you really and genuinely want to be a better person.