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The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially Hardcover – October 3, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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The wages of the married are high, commitment is good for the libido, and, despite 30 years of arguments to the contrary, happiness may just depend on reciting the wedding vow, according to Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher. After sifting through the evidence and conducting their own studies, the authors conclude that marriage is beneficial and transformational, and that neither cohabitation nor swinging singledom are all they're cracked up to be. In fact, it turns out that marriage is a public heath issue: being single can take almost 10 years off a man's life, while wifely nagging really is good for his health. Getting and keeping a wife can also increase a man's income as much as an education. Waite and Gallagher debunk a number of myths about marriage, including the one that says men get a better deal. Acknowledging that there may have been some truth to this in the past, better equity in modern marriages means that women make out just as well as men, though in different ways. Divorce--not marriage--is especially bad for women's health; parenting young children--not marriage--is the usual source of depression seen in mothers; and battering is significantly more common in cohabitating couples.

So, what does threaten marriage? For one, the insecurity engendered by the cultural acceptance of divorce. Couples are now less willing to invest fully in each other, the authors write, while "commitment produces contentment; uncertainty creates agony." Cultural indifference towards marriage is the other big downer. Because marriage is a public commitment, it can "work its miracles only if it is supported by the whole society." Not surprisingly, divorce gets a very bad rap as Waite and Gallagher pull out the heavyweight facts, particularly when it comes to its effect on children. The good news, though, is that marriage is resilient--five years down the road most couples who considered but resisted divorce found that they were happy again. Since Americans are still the marrying kind despite the cynicism, fear, and laissez-faire attitudes, The Case for Marriage makes a reassuring and compelling case for keeping on keeping on. --Lesley Reed

From Booklist

Waite and Gallagher overstate contemporary attacks on marriage, but they make a valid point that the revered institution has suffered stings lately. They cite the steady rise in divorce and in cohabitation, unwed parenthood, and the perception among some of marriage as a tradition. The authors note troubling trends that indicate that despite polls showing Americans rank a happy marriage as their primary goal, "when it comes to marriage, Americans have both high hopes and debilitating fears." The authors combat every negative myth regarding marriage--that it imprisons women or provides the context for abuse--with statistics showing its benefits: married people live longer, are healthier, have greater wealth and happiness, have sex more often, and provide a healthier, happier environment in which to raise children. Waite and Gallagher make their arguments in the context of the struggle between individualism and community interests, "between freedom and love." They also examine public policies that threaten to undermine marriage and what the government, courts, private sector, and individuals can do to strengthen this time-honored institution. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (October 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385500858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385500852
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although we are watching "Sex in the City," we should be reading "The Case for Marriage." Based on sound social theory and overwhelming empirical evidence, Waite and Gallagher remind us that marriage is a vital social institution that needs our support to make us better off individually and collectively.
The authors debunk many myths about marriage to reveal that married people report being happier overall and more satisfied with their sex lives. Married persons also earn more, are in better physical and mental health, and have more well-adjusted and successful children. Waite and Gallagher explain the how and why for these results by translating social science theories into layman's terms and weaving in illustrative anecdotes from research interviews.
While 93% of Americans rank "having a happy marriage" as a priority, sadly, we are increasingly pessimistic about our chances of achieving that goal. Most of us are either scared by divorce statistics, lack healthy marriage role models, or don't fully understand the benefits of marriage, among other reasons. This fear also translates into an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophesy of failure. By entering into marriage fearing divorce, if we are even willing to make the leap, we do not make the investments required to produce successful marriages.
To address the challenges for healthy and lasting marriages, the authors make specific recommendations to policymakers, religious leaders, researchers, and anyone touched by marriage as to how to build a more "marriage-friendly America." They are careful not to invoke any particular political or religious ideology. They simply examine the evidence to provide what they perceive to be the logical next steps. Perhaps readers will come up with additional suggestions.
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Format: Hardcover
This book turns conventional wisdom on its head. It will be THE topic of conversation at dinner parties and in singles bars. Don't read it, and you risk spouting off out-of-date cynical info - and losing a lot of bets. No, women don't do better single than married. Yes, married men have more satisfying sex than single men -- and, more often. Yes, married women experience far less domestic violence than their single counterparts.
It turns out the reason we're so stupid about marriage - and divorce like lemmings -- is that we've been operating on woefully inaccurate information. For 30 years, the experts have told us that marriage makes no difference. Or worse! -- that our kids will be "just fine" without it - that they do just as well in single-parent or remarried families. We've been told (in graduate school, no less!) that women are better off single than married. None of which is true!
We should be outraged! We've been making our decisions based on a barge load of myth and misinformation. NO WONDER marriage is at an all time low and divorce is rampant. We've had a 50% divorce rate for 30 years - and it turns out it's not our fault. Who knew!
"The Case for Marriage" sets the record straight. It turns out that marriage makes a huge difference in the health, wealth and wellbeing of men, women and children. And as for women and those "sex in the city" girls -- they'd be better off married on everything researchers can measure including less violence, more money, more successful kids, and more -- and more satisfying -- sex. Yep, sex is better for BOTH married men and married women than their single friends who are racing around looking for it.
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Format: Hardcover
For quite a few years now research findings have demonstrated the truth that marriage has positive effects on those who partake of it. Indeed, so much research on this subject exists that about six years ago I wrote an article called "The Case for Marriage" in which I summarised the available data. In this new book the massive amount of data on the benefits of marriage is collected and brought up to date. What emerges is a comprehensive and intriguing look at the importance of marriage.
The authors summarise the data from the social sciences in this fashion: "The evidence is in, at least for the ways in which marriage is practiced today: Both men and women gain a great deal from marriage. True, marriage does not affect men and women in exactly the same way. Both men and women live longer, healthier, and wealthier lives when married, but husbands typically get greater health benefits from marriage than do wives. On the other hand, while both men and women get bigger bank accounts and a higher standard of living in marriage, wives reap even greater financial benefits than do husbands. Overall, the portrait of marriage that emerges from two generations of increasingly sophisticated empirical research on actual husbands and wives is not one of gender bias, but gender balance: A good marriage enlarges and enriches the lives of both men and women."
A few examples (of many) can be noted: Unmarried people (be they widowed, divorced or single) are far more likely to die from all causes of death, including cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and pneumonia. Married men are only half as likely as bachelors, and about one-third as likely as divorced men to take their own lives.
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