For well over a decade, I have been scrutinizing studies of the link between getting married and getting happy. With every new published study or review article, it becomes increasingly clear that the conventional wisdom – that getting married means getting happier – is just plain wrong.
The quality of the studies has been improving. Instead of just comparing people of different marital statuses at one point in time, we now have studies that follow people over many years of their adult lives as they get married or get divorced or widowed or stay single. They are asked repeatedly about their happiness (or life satisfaction). A review of 18 such studies showed quite compellingly that people who get married do not get happier.
The more problematic studies (comparing married and unmarried people at one point in time) continue to pile up, and they also fail to make the case that single people are miserable, and by marrying, they become blissful. They could not possibly show that, for methodological reasons.