Did you know that your parents started thinking about your marriage even before you could learn alphabets? According to most Indian parents, marriage is the ultimate milestone in their daughter’s life. Even the ones who support their daughters to study and build a career will probably ask her to sacrifice all of that “if needed” for her marriage. “We just want you to have a happy and secured future” — when this becomes the counter-argument for anything that you say, you can hardly ever win. Also, parents aren’t the only one who emphasize how important marriage is, in a woman’s life — women do it themselves. Most of us believe that our life is incomplete without getting married or having children. Thanks to all the “happily ever after” stories repeatedly sung by the media. Clearly, movies that focus on the hardships of marriage are scant when compared to those that praise the glory of a married woman’s life. Now to all the girls who are dying to get married, this may come as a shocker: research says women are happier without marriage or children!
Breaking away the shackles of age-old myths that forced women to be dependent on men, this news is a breath of fresh air for those who believe that it’s okay to not have a husband and children. Paul Dolan, professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics shared the details of the research at a Hay Festival in Whales (1). In his latest book “Happy Ever After”, Dolan supports his arguments based on evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The survey analyzed pleasure and misery in a study that involved group of people with different marital statuses. These people were divided into five groups namely — unmarried, married, divorced, separated, and widowed.
“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother,” Dolan said. According to the research, marriage was beneficial to men because it calmed them down. To explain this point, Dolan said, “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.”
According to other studies that Dolan referred to, married men were healthier than married women because they took fewer risks. On the other hand, married women, especially the ones in their middle-age suffer from many health problems both physical as well as mental. Well, if you think about it, you can actually relate it well to your own life. Our mothers are the ones who stay late at night worrying about our health if we get sick. They are the ones who take care of the entire house and the family. And if she’s a working woman, she plays a juggler’s role in her own life trying to balance between personal and professional life. We can imagine the stress a woman goes through when she has to do it all. So if you think you don’t want to, it’s okay to not marry. Run woman! Run from the stereotypes!
“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner,” Dolan said. He also pointed out that even if a single woman enjoys better health and happiness, she might feel unhappy since she failed to meet the widely accepted criteria of “success.” Even she doesn’t feel unhappy, there are friends and relatives who are going to crib about it until she becomes unhappy, right?
The pressure of marriage attacks a girl as soon as she hits puberty. In India, girls are taught to cook, behave, and talk in a manner that will ultimately please her future husband and in-laws. As she crosses 25, people start asking questions about her sexuality, health conditions, and suspected romantic relationships. Attending family events and long dinners with parents become a struggle because of this pressure but nobody really knows how futile this pressure is since marriage isn’t really helping a woman live to the fullest.
Of course, marriage is a personal choice and those who are willingly ready to sacrifice their peace of mind for the warmth and love of a partner and children can happily get married. But it’s important to know that marriage isn’t everything and a woman can live happily and successfully without getting married.
What are your thoughts on marriage and single life? Do you believe that you should be married to experience true happiness? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.