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Married People Happier Than Others

Even people in unhappy unions were better off, study found

TUESDAY, Dec. 13, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Women and men in committed relationships are happier than other people, claims a Cornell University study.

Researchers analyzed information collected from 691 people and found that the stronger the commitment, the greater the sense of happiness and well-being.

Married people had the highest sense of well-being, whether they were happily married or not. Next on the scale of happiness and well-being were people who were living together, followed by people in steady relationships and those in casual relationships.

The findings were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

"Some commitment appears to be good, but more commitment appears to be even better," study author Claire Kamp Dush, a postdoctoral fellow with the Evolving Family Theme Project of the Institute for Social Sciences at Cornell, said in a prepared statement.

The finding that even people in unhappy marriages had a high sense of well-being and happiness may be due to the benefits they derive from the stability, commitment and social status of marriage, Kamp Dush said.

"Even when controlling for relationship happiness, being married is associated with higher self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, greater happiness and less distress, whereas people who are not in stable romantic relationships tend to report lower self-esteem, less life satisfaction, less happiness and more distress," she said.

Studying romantic relationships is important because these relationships can affect people's mental and physical health, sexuality and financial status, Kamp Dush noted.

More information

The U.S. Administration for Children and Families outlines the benefits of a healthy marriage.

SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, Dec. 1, 2005
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