Intimacy And Happiness

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Intimate relationship or partnership formation (marriage) affects the level of happiness in individuals. It is agreed in different school of thought that intimate relationship or marriage has a positive influence on total well being. In Social sciences, it is believed that marriage has a positive and enduring effect on well-being (Waite 1995; Waite and Lehrer 2003; also in economics, Frey and Stutzer 2002; Layard 2005). However there is a contrary consensus to such agreement. An article in a renowned psychological journal by Lucas, Clark, Georgellis, and Diener (2003) showed after a 15 years (1984 to 1998) of study, that such happiness is temporal and only last a period of two years. Typically, people revert two years after marriage to the same “baseline” level of life satisfaction that prevailed two years before the marriage. It was concluded that people adapt quickly and completely to marriage. This adaptation means that they return to their baseline which they were 2 years before going into the marriage. It was concluded that a person’s subjective well-being tends to center around a setpoint determined by genetics and personality, and major life transitions and events merely deflect a person temporarily from this level. David G. Myers (2000: 60).
Another study was conducted to verify the implication of the 15-year study, in this case 21 years was used spanning between 1984 and 2004. Sample of first marriages in Germany among previously unmarried persons who married during the survey period and for whom data are available for at least two years before marriage and two years after marriage were taken. The sample includes marriages that remain intact during the sample period as well as those that dissolve after two or more years. The effect of subjective well-being of formation of cohabitation before marriage was also examined.
There is an economic implication of being in an intimate relationship or being in marriage. This also improves the well-being of the individuals involved .Findings show that married men earn higher wages than their single counterparts. A report showed that white men in America earn 11 percent more than their never-married counterparts, controlling for all the standard human capital variables (Korenman and Neumark 1991). Other report showed that married people have higher family income than the non non-married. The gap between the family income of the non- married and single women being wider than between married and single men (Hahn 1993). Additionally, married people have on the average higher levels of wealth and assets (Lupton and Smith 2003).

The time parents devote to their children is a major form of investment—one that is strongly linked with children’s well-being and development. It is interesting to know also that children raised by their own married parents do better on the average when compared to children raised by single or not parent. The time parents spend with children, including parent–child shared activities, has been shown to have a positive effect on children’s development (Büchel and Duncan 1998; Furstenberg, Morgan, and Allison 1987; Cooksey and Fondell 1996). Report also shows that the former are less likely to die as infants (Bennett et al. 1994) and have better health during childhood (Angel and Worobey 1988) and even in old age (Tucker et al. 1997). Such children are likely to drop out of school and complete more years of schooling. The children tend to have better mental health than their counterparts wh have experienced a parental divorced. The children are less likely to be idle as young adults and less likely to have a child as an unmarried teenager (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994). Children from divorced home shows more evidence of emotional problems prior to divorced Cherlin et al.(1998). The author of this research also found that the gap tend to occur in families that are troubled and become wider after divorce. This indeed causes dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Growing up in a non-intact family can be associated with short and long term problems. Such problem could be mental health and their interaction with their environment. Time spent by parents on their own children does not enter traditional measures of productivity, nor is it factored into national accounts. Yet, it is a major form of investment in children, and one that appears to have increased throughout the modern industrialized world since the 1960s. Despite the increase in women’s labor force participation and despite the time pressures from work, parents today appear to be devoting more time to childcare than they did 40 years ago.

Human beings are interested in sex. There are also scientific reasons to study it. New work by Daniel Kahneman, Alan Krueger, David Schkade, Norbert Schwarz and Arthur Stone (Kahneman et al 2003) finds, among a sample of 1000 employed women, that sex is rated retrospectively as the activity that produces the single largest amount of happiness. Commuting to and from work produces the lowest levels of happiness. These two activities come top and bottom, respectively, of a list of 19 activities. In intimate relationship or marriage, people will have active sex lives. National Health and Social Life Survey show that levels of emotional and physical satisfaction with sex are highest for married people and lowest for non-married singles, with those who are not married but living together coming in between (Laumann et al. 1994). Indeed sexually active is the secret to a happy life in an intimate relationship. One definition of happiness is the degree to which an individual judges the overall quality of his or her life as favorable (Veenhoven 1991, 1993). Psychologists draw a distinction between the well-being from life as a whole and the well-being associated with a single area of life: these they term “context-free” and “context-specific”. These researchers view it as natural that a concept such as happiness should be studied in part by asking people how they feel.

Another major benefit of intimacy for happiness is social integration and support. Marriage implies love, intimacy and friendship. Social integration provides a key channel through which it leads to improved mental and physical health. To be in marriage means having someone who will provide emotional support on a regular basis, thereby decreasing depression, anxiety and other physiological problems. It in turns improve overall mental well-being. Participation and interaction with one’s immediate community contribute immensely to level of happiness. The degree of our geographical mobility affects our cultural values. Although economists are generally in favor of geographical mobility, since it moves people from places where they are less productive to where they will be more productive. However, It increases family break-up and criminality. If people live near where they grow up, they tend to have a social support, which is less available in more mobile communities. High mobility make people feel less bonded to the people among whom they live in a new environment, and crime is more common in such an environment. A good predictor of low crime rate is how many friends people have within 15 minutes walk Crime is lower when people trust each other and vice-versa. If people live in places where their families are, they tend to feel bonded and have a good degree of sense of belonging. Support from spouse can improve physical health directly, by aiding early detection and promote speedy recovery from sickness (Ross et al 1990).

Another astonishing benefit of marriage intimacy is in its economic benefit. Marriage promotes higher level of economic well-being. Division of labor and specialization are enjoyed between the couple in a legal intimate relationship. Pooling of resources and risk sharing are examples of such economic benefits that marriage promotes. From an economic perspective, a two-parent household is also the optimal institutional arrangement for raising children for another reason.

Using the subjective indicator, analysis of the data shows for cross-sectional studies on the effects of cohabitation, marriage, and divorce on life satisfaction, that the formation of unions has a significant positive effect on life satisfaction, while the dissolution of unions through separation or divorce has a significant negative effect. No evidence was found that children affect life satisfaction, either for those who remain married or for those who divorce. There was no significant difference between life satisfaction two or more years after marriage and life satisfaction in cohabiting unions prior to marriage. The similarity in the life satisfaction estimates before and after marriage of those in unions suggests that the formalization of unions by marriage has no significant impact on life satisfaction.
There is evidence, however, that those whose marriages break up do have personality traits different from the overall population that might adversely affect the likelihood of an enduring union. Moreover, this “divorce subgroup” is also distinctive in its lower socioeconomic status. We do not find a marriage trajectory for this divorce subgroup—cohabitation–marriage reaction–marriage adaptation—any different from that of individuals in first marriages that remain intact. The implication we draw is that the roots of prospective dissolution lie in the distinctive socioeconomic and personality traits of those destined for separation and divorce, and not in a disparate course of life satisfaction in the first years of marriage.
It was conclude that the German Socio-Economic Panel data support the conclusion of cross-sectional analyses that the formation of unions—marital or cohabiting—increases happiness and that the dissolution of unions decreases it.

Influence various aspects of life, including mental health and happiness, economic well-being, raising of children, sex and physical health and longevity. Here the various ways by which marriage level of intimacy influences happiness are discussed below
It has been established that married people are less likely to suffer from long term illness or disability than unmarried people (Murphy et al. 1997). Married people also have better survival rates for some illness than their unmarried counterparts (Goodwin et al 1987). They have fewer physical problems and lower risk of death from various causes. Analysis showed that there is higher chance of longevity in married couple compared to unmarried individuals(Lillard and Waite 1995; Waite and Gallagher 200). If marriage brings good health which in turn culminates in longevity, then people tend to be happier when they are in sound health which is a key feature of the good life and happiness.
Recent research has also shown that getting married and also staying in marriage to the same person is associated with better mental health. There has been a transformation in the treatment of mental illness since the past 52 years. The first is the breakthrough in the drug therapy which has done more to reduce extreme misery than any other change over the last half century. Then came major development in psychotherapy. -especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Both drugs and therapy have not been tested in double-blind clinical trials, in which patients nor the researcher knows whether real treatment is given. Result shows that the treatment has been more effective for patients who become depressed. Either of the two treatments will lift 60% of sufferers out of their depression within four months. Obviously, the cost of these treatments is not large relative to huge improvement in well-being. There were also evidence of emotional well-being being improved following marriage and decline at the end of the union or at break-ups (Horwitz et al. 1996; Mark and Lambert 2000). Marriage is associated with greater overall happiness. While life in general is substantially higher among those who are currently married than among those who have never been married or have been previously married.

In summary, the information presented in this paper suggests that the trends in the happiness of married and never-married persons showed that. the happiness of never-married persons has not continued to increase, while the happiness of the married continued to increase due to different several factors. Today, the evidence continues to suggest that the married have significantly higher levels of happiness than the never-married. Regardless of the societal changes in marital and non-marital heterosexual relationships, the married continue to receive benefits that persons of other marital statuses do not receive. Compared with cohabitation, marriage provides persons with higher levels of relationship commitment, stability, happiness, and integration, all of which contribute positively to persons’ psychological well-being. Accordingly, never married cohabiting persons experience lower levels of happiness than married persons. Never-married cohabiting persons also experience lower levels of happiness than noncohabiting never-married persons. Contrary to Glenn and Weaver (1988), evidence suggests that cohabitation is at best unhelpful for persons, and may actually be detrimental to persons’ psychological well-being. Marriage, on the other hand, continues to be associated with good mental and physical health.


Andrews, F.M. (1991). “Stability and Change in Levels and Structure of Subjective Well- Being:USA 1972 and 1988”, Social Indicators Research, 25, 1-30.
Clark, A.E. (1996). “Job Satisfaction in Britain”, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 34,
Kohler, Behrman, Skytthe (2005) Population and Development Review 31, 407-55
Kohler, Behrman, Skytthe (2005) Population and Development Review 31, 407-55
Layard (2005)” Can we afford to be secure?” Pp. 167-184
Layard, R. (1980). “Human Satisfactions and Public Policy”, Economic Journal, 90, 737-750.
Waite, Lehrer (2003) The benefits from marriage and religion in the United States. A comparative analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family 29, 255-275.
Zimmermann, Easterlin (2006) Population and Development Review 32, 511-28.

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