By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Drew Barrymore, in a recent interview for her talk show, said this... "I never want to be entwined with someone like that again ever. You break up, and you move on. You get divorced, and it’s just so different. I love that we are trying to hold on to an institution that [started] when the closest person to you for companionship was a three-day horse ride away and your life span was 30 years."
Drew Barrymore isn’t the first or only celebrity to decide that marriage was cramping her style. Evangeline Lilly told Ocean Drive Magazine that marriage isn’t “realistic.”
Cameron Diaz told Maxim that she felt marriage was a dying institution. She said, ”I think we have to make our own rules. I don’t think we should live our lives in relationships based off of old traditions that don’t suit our world any longer.” Giving up on marriage has become a common refrain in popular culture.
Is there merit to these jaded and skeptical comments? Is committing to the idea of a forever love naive, unnecessary, or outdated? What value does saying “I do” have in a world where instant gratification and endless options abound in every other part of our lives? Why wouldn't we want to trade the work of monogamy for something fleeting but fun in the moment?
God created marriage to be the foundation of our communities. The marriage relationship serves as the heartbeat of our homes and grounds us in our daily adult lives. While divorce, separation, abuse, loss, infidelity, and more are heartbreaking realities that can scare us away from being willing to embrace the protective boundaries marriage places on our lives; the institution of marriage still offers real and very relevant benefits for our personal health and greatly affects society's ability to thrive.
Let's explore the great reasons why marriage matters now just as much as it ever did.
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1. Marriage Improves Social Health
Drew and others want to make the case the society has moved past the need for committed marriages. The reality is quite the opposite!
Society thrives when marriage and family life is thriving. The benefits of saying “I do” go way beyond your own home and truly are a part of what it takes to grow a healthy community.
God knew that humanity needed accountability in order to remain healthy and happy. Marriage is an institution that not only benefits those who are a part of the marriage but the benefits have ripple effects into society.
Marriage reduces crime. Men who are married have been found to be less likely to engage in all sorts of reckless behavior that results in criminal activity. Married women are less likely to experience domestic violence compared to those who are cohabitating with their partner. Society enjoys more peace and less violence when marriage is common.
Getting married doesn’t just help you stay safer it also can help you get richer. Marriage offers more income potential for families--giving them a bit of a financial leg up in society over their single peers. Committed and in-tact family units are a great incentive for grown-ups to find greater success in their careers and more.
There is a quantifiable power in living a life that is fully-on-paper-committed to a spouse and family that you create together. Married men statistically earn more than their peers and married women enjoy more economic stability than their single or divorced counterparts.
Children raised by their married mother and father enjoy many benefits. Kids thrive when they grow up in a stable and loving environment. Two committed parents who have embraced the protective boundaries that the marriage covenant prescribes offer the best outcomes for kids.
Children in these homes are more likely to complete their education, typically have less behavioral issues, attend school with more consistency, and are more likely to complete a four-year college degree. These kids are less susceptible to mental illnesses such as suicide and depression.
They are also more likely to experience a lasting marriage when they grow older. Marriage is our best option when raising the next generation.
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2. Marriage Improves Your Physical Health
Believe it or not science has actually found that married people live longer! Marriage skeptics would want you to believe that more joy, health, and richness of life can be found outside the confines of marriage but science tells us a different story.
Studies have shown married people are less likely to die early and less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke. Life is hard; a strong marriage offers support that helps us better navigate life’s stressors!
While the line that the “grass is greener on the other side” can be easy to buy into the truth is that the real benefits come when you keep watering your own grass. Settling down once you are married helps curb you from engaging in more risky activities. People who get married are less likely to struggle with substance abuse issues that always lead to worse lifetime outcomes.
There is something to having someone around over a lifetime that knows you and can help you when you need a boost! Your spouse can be your accountability when you are striving towards meeting a goal. You are able to keep tabs on each other, encouraging each other to get checked if you see suspect symptoms as well as support each other through life’s more stressful seasons.
Those with a committed spouse who is there through thick and thin is there for you to rely on and are less likely to experience depression and isolation.
Love and support from a committed partner from a strong marriage offers better health outcomes, even when you face the worst circumstances. A study conducted in Norway found that single and divorced cancer patients had higher mortality rates than married men.
Having someone you know and that knows you is excellent medicine when life deals you its worst blows.
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3. Marriage Improves Emotional Health
Celebrities and others have bought into the lie that marriage is impossible and only leads to turmoil. There is joy to be found in the hard work of staying by each other's side for the long-haul.
Careful research has demonstrated that married people are happier people! On average 40 percent of married people reported being “very happy” with their lives compared to only 25 percent of singles or cohabitors.
Those who do not cohabitate before marriage report having a happier marriage than those that do. Simply put, married people generally are happier people and waiting to move in after saying your vows only strengthens that effect!
Married couples express feelings of pride in their accomplishments and positivity more than others! Married life better connects you to your community, providing a greater sense of belonging and pride. Being married gives you a partner to share duties with, giving you the flexibility and time to be more involved in your community. Single parents or single people do not have the same access to events and resources.
Marriage even helps protect your sanity. When we see the public or even personally see the private devastation of divorce we can get scared away from marriage, thinking the potential harm of entering into a committed marriage is greater than the good.
The truth is the benefits outweigh the risk. Studies have found that married people experience less psychological distress than single, divorced, or widowed American. Research has shown just the act of being married gives your mental health a boost! Marriage is a deterrent for suicide as suicide rates drastically decline in married men and woman.
Marriage helps keep the bond tighter with your children, leading to more emotional health for everyone in the family unit. Divorce weakens the bond between parents and children in the long run. Adult children of divorced parents describe their relationship with their parents in less positive terms and are less likely to see their parents as often as those with parents that remained married.
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4. Marriage Improves Sexual Health
The widely held idea that the single life offers a more steamy and satisfying sex-life has not been found to be actually true. Sex surveys consistently show that married people have more sex than their single peers.
Why does quantity matter? A more abundant sex life is actually good for you! Michael Roizen MD, who is a gerontologist at the University of Chicago. His studies have revealed a number of profound health benefits that sexually active adults experience throughout life.
One benefit is that if you are having sex twice a week you can experience the equivalent of being two years younger than your chronological age. Not to mention a robust sex life enhances your health and efficiency of the heart, respiration, muscle strength, as well as other organs in the body.
Sex is important to helping promote a sense of happiness in satisfaction in your life. Oxytocin is released during intercourse that produces a feeling of tranquility and also lowers blood pressure! Research has shown that the benefits of frequent sex can add up to 5 years to your life.
Married people are even more likely to report a emotionally satisfying sex-life. Half of married men say that sex with their partner is emotional and physically satisfying while only 39 percent of cohabitating men report the same thing.
The idea that marriage equals less physical and emotional intimacy just isn’t true! Over a lifetime you are able to enjoy a sexual relationship that is consistent and free of the anxiety and risks that comes with passing encounters.
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5. God Made Marriage for Our Benefit
God made marriage because he knew it was in our best interest to do this life with a partner.
When God made Adam even before sin entered the world, God said that Adam being alone was not good (Genesis 2:18). Humans are made for community and marriage is the most fundamental building block to a strong sense of community in our lives.
Ephesians 5:33 says, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” These words show us that marriage was intended to be a God-inspired institution that is fueled by mutual love and respect.
Ephesians 5 shares that marriage in it’s best form should be filled with unity. We should care for our spouse with the same diligence that we use to care for ourselves. For most of us, we need the accountability of our marriage vows for us to be willing and able to truly love another human in the ways the Bible calls us to.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” God knows that we are better together.
God desires for you to have a life partner that is there to help you up when you are struggling and someone for you that you are committed to that you can enjoy life’s sweetest moments with too! God knows you can accomplish more in this life when you are not alone. Having a partner who can take the kids, make you coffee when you need it, or help clean the house leads to a fuller more productive life.
Two get a better return on their labor than one.
Marriage isn’t always easy and doesn’t always go as we hope. After all, it is the union of two imperfect humans and while we all aspire to offer each other unconditional love and respect, we sometimes fail in this regard.
Thankfully God offers us grace for those moments we fail too! These are not reasons to abandon the institution that God created because he knows we need a family unit, a partner, and even more than that he wants us to experience the deep joy a lifetime of shared love brings too!
It's these trying moments that actually help us to become more perseverant. If you’ve found yourself feeling disillusioned with marriage as Drew has; pray that God would heal your heart so you can see again the gift that marriage is intended to be for your life.
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