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Marriage Doesn't Make You Any Happier Than Living Together

The moral of the story: do what feels right to you!
A couple celebrating moving in to a new home
Gary Burchell via Getty Images
A couple celebrating moving in to a new home

If you're getting married because you think it will make you happier, you could be wrong.

A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology says living together provides the same level of emotional satisfaction as tying the knot — but it's the level of maturity of both partners that makes the difference.

The study looked at the relationship status of 8,700 heterosexual people born between 1980 and 1984. Participants were re-surveyed every year over the span of 10 years, starting in 2000, and asked to identify their level of emotional distress at the time.

The findings showed that in relationships when subjects were younger, women showed a decrease in emotional distress after moving in with or marrying their partner. Men, on the other hand, only showed a decrease in distress after marriage.

Sara Mernitz, co-author of the study, said in a press release that this changed during later relationships, when both men and women showed the same emotional boost from living with or being married to a partner.

"The young people in our study may be selecting better partners for themselves the second time around, which is why they are seeing a drop in emotional distress," Kamp Dush, co-author of the study, said in a press release.

Still, relationship experts are quick to point out that while marriage can provide great companionship and satisfaction, going into a marriage expecting it to change your life can lead to a doomed marriage.

Living together also comes with its own set of myths and realities. While it has long been believed that living together before marriage leads to divorce, a 2014 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that the age at which couples move in together is more likely the link to high divorce rates — the older you are when you start cohabitating, the more likely you are to stay together.

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