Here's the Article I've Always Wanted to Write

What's wrong with the claim that getting married makes you happier and healthier

Posted Feb 10, 2016

I've written so often about what's wrong with all the claims that getting married makes people happier, healthier, less self-centered, less isolated, and all the rest, that when I put together a collection of those articles, the resulting book (Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong) would have been way too long if I included them all. Because I wanted to make my arguments accessible to people who did not want to read all that much, I also published a version with just my one most powerful article on the topic, The Science of Marriage: What We Know That Just Isn't So.

It begins like this:

"Do you think that getting married makes people happier and healthier and better off in all sorts of other psychological and interpersonal ways? Do you think that these are not just beliefs, but facts based on scientific research? No wonder. Celebrated scholars and authors such as Dan Gilbert and Dan Buettner have been telling us that. Judicial decisions point to these claims. Popular media narratives depend on them. There's just one problem: What we all think we know just isn't so."

Even that brief book, though, is still more than 16,000 words and in some sections, gets into the weeds about research findings and methodologies.

What I've always wanted to write is a very short, clear, and compelling version of my argument – one that any smart person could read and understand without needing any special training or scholarly inclinations. Recently, I got that opportunity when the "In Theory" column of the Washington Post invited me to write an article for them. They are running a week-long feature on Singlehood in America, with a different expert invited to contribute each day. My article, "Everything you think you know about single people is wrong," kicked off the series. Please take a look at it if you are interested, and if you like it, e-mail it to others, share it on social media, and do anything else you can think of to spread the word. Maybe at some point, we will succeed at knocking down the false narrative that has for so long been ensconced as part of the conventional wisdom of our time.