Twice as Happy in Life.
Apparently the key to a thriving relationship also
makes you happier in life.
By Melanie Curtin
There are a lot of reasons to get married. One is being
in love. Another is wanting the tax break. Yet another is
the desire to publicly commit to your best friend that you
will be with him or her forever, no matter what. Until
death parts you.
Now, science has proven a somewhat shocking concept:
that when it comes to having a fulfilling life,
it's that last part that matters the most. No, not
the death part--the best friend status.
The study in question, out of the National Bureau of
Economic Research, is creatively titled, "How's Life
at Home? New Evidence on Marriage and the Set Point
for Happiness." One of its main findings is that individuals
who consider their spouse to be their best friend are more
satisfied with their lives overall.
Twice as satisfied, as it turns out.
"[T]hose who are best friends with their partners have
the largest well-being benefits from marriage and
cohabitation, even when controlling for pre-marital
well-being levels," the researchers state. "The
wellbeing benefits of marriage are on average about
twice as large for those (about half of the sample)
whose spouse is also their best friend."
As stated, roughly half of the individuals in the study
listed their partner as their best friend; half didn't.
And there were differences between the genders. Of married
couples, 53 percent of men listed their spouse as their
bestie, while 43 percent of women did. The study also
looked at couples that were unmarried but cohabiting, and
the percentages there were 48 percent for men and
44 percent for women.
The scientists controlled for age, gender, income, health
status, and previous life satisfaction. This makes the
onclusion pretty unassailable: When you marry your best
friend, you're far more satisfied.
The value of scientific studies like this that examine the
quality and sustainability of relationships lies not just
in the conclusions, but in the choices we can make because of them.
For example, when deciding on a mate for life, we can
place a lot of emphasis on a wide variety of factors:
Is s/he educated enough? Does s/he make enough money?
Do we have similar values? Do I get along with his/her
parents? Do we know how to fight well? Does s/he make
me laugh? Is s/he reliable?
This science suggests that if you want a fulfilling
partnership and satisfying life, there's one question
to add to the list that should arguably be put at the top:
Is s/he my best friend?
A best friend has your back. A best friend supports your
dreams. A best friend is someone you can call anytime, anywhere,
without feeling like they'll resent you for it. They're the
person you put as an emergency contact and the first person
you think about when something wonderful happens at work.
They know all your quirks (and love you anyway). They can
challenge you in deep ways because they know the ins and
outs of your psyche (and love you anyway). They're the
kind of person who'll make soup and draw you a bath when
you're sick, even if they're busy, because they genuinely
want you to feel better.
If you're looking for a way to examine the status of your
current or future romantic relationship, it's probably wise
to keep this in mind.
And if you're already married to the person you consider
your best friend, then this kind of research determination
is cause for celebration.
Why? Because it proves what you've known all along: that
you live a happier, healthier, richer life because of that
gorgeous, flawed, sometimes grumpy, often generous, always
interesting, perfectly imperfect person you chose to marry.
"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that
makes unhappy marriages." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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