Sociological research has long associated the institution of marriage as a positive factor when evaluating a couple's well being. Some argue that married people are happier, but others argue that people that are already social, happy people tend to be the type to get married.
The National Bureau of Economic Research has released a study on marriage that controls for pre-marriage life satisfaction, stating, "Those who marry are more satisfied than those who remain single."
A 1974 study suggested marriage increased the utility of the partners because each had complementary functions to contribute to the household: man as breadwinner, woman as caretaker. Gender roles within marriage have since undergone a shift to become a partnership that is more about love than about roles.
While responsibilities have adjusted, researchers Shawn Grover and John Helliwell's findings show the constant for happiness is a close relationship between the spouses.
Marrying your best friend gives greater life satisfaction, and in particular, helps navigate mid-life crises. The study shows people of every marital status experience a dip in life satisfaction at middle age. For those who are married, though, the dip is far less severe than those singles face.
The study also shows that those who considered their spouse their best friend had twice as much life satisfaction from marriage than others. This, perhaps, is because the closer couples shared the stress and pressures of life by supporting one another and relying on their spouses.
Marriage rates continue to fall and are at an all-time historic low–but those who do marry continue to be more satisfied than their single counterparts.