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Finding the right lifelong partner can be one of the smartest moves a woman can make, since there are many ways a good relationship  can improve a person.  After a lengthy review of the current research, as well as the findings from our own thirty years of research on marriage, here are the ten top ways a good marriage can improve a man and a woman:

1. The most powerful conclusion of all of the studies is that there is a direct positive relationship between longer life and being married.   One study concluded that women live an average of 4 years longer than unmarried women. What an incentive to find a mate for life!

2. There have been a great number of research studies throughout the world since 1987 demonstrating a positive relationship between being married and better physical health. The links between marriage and good physical health are overwhelming.  Married women have lower rates of serious illness and are less likely to die in hospitals than unmarried women.

3. Married people report being happier than unmarried people.   They are hopeful, happy and feel good about themselves.  A multitude of studies demonstrate the same results.  

4. Men and women in stable relationships have higher levels of psychological health. Married people have lower rates of depression and schizophrenia than unmarried people.  They are more balanced and less likely to experience mental illness.

5. A relationship provides a woman with a built-in support system.   Research indicates that women in a marriage feel supported, saying that they always have someone they trust to confide in and to lean on in times of need.

6. A married man woman is less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than an unmarried woman.  Numerous studies indicate that married individuals are less likely than unmarried persons to engage in risky behaviors including the use of drugs or alcohol because of their feelings of responsibility.

7. Married women have greater earnings than unmarried women. The most recent studies of women's earning power demonstrate that married women earn more than unmarried women even when their husband's income is not considered part of their earnings.  The vast majority of the studies take all of the various possible factors into consideration and the results still demonstrate greater earnings for married women than for unmarried ones.

8. A married woman will save more money than an unmarried woman.  In the United States married individuals in their 50s and 60s have a net worth per person roughly twice that of other unmarried individuals.  

9. A married woman will have sex more often and enjoy it more.   Physically and emotionally married couples report a greater satisfaction with sex then their unmarried counterparts.  Married couples also have sexual intimacy more often than unmarried couples.

10. If you are married, your children have a better chance to be healthier, doing better academically and having fewer emotional problems.  Children living in families with married parents are more likely to have proper health care, better nutrition and less stress to deal with at home. Children with married parents have significantly better grades, test scores and overall success in school than their counterparts raised in households with unmarried individuals.

Linda Gallagher and Maggie Waite, after analyzing the results of their comprehensive study on the benefits of marriage in 1990, suggested that there should be a warning about not being married.  They want divorce decrees to carry the warning label, "Not being married can be hazardous to your health."  They could not have said it better.  

By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz

**For marriage advice and hundreds of practical tips, read the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts (Jossey-Bass/Wiley). Available wherever books are sold. Learn more about America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts and take the Marriage Quiz  .

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