Marriage is a key institution in most cultures and for good reasons. Apart from the penultimate state of togetherness a couple can achieve, it also brings two families together. Moreover, one cannot deny the myriad social, financial, and legal benefits that a healthy marriage can bring on an individual and family.
However, marriage may not be for everyone and should not be entered into as a result of social pressure or obligation.
Read on to learn what these benefits of marriage could be and how they may apply to your relationship someday.
General Benefits Of Marriage
Marriage is not only the next big step for most serious relationships, but also comes loaded with a lot of benefits that can change your overall well-being. Some of these benefits include:
1. Improved life expectancy and recovery rates
While life expectancy varies based on your income, lifestyle, and where you live, research has proven that, on an average, married couples enjoy a higher life expectancy. This can be due to the healthier lifestyle and more contentment when you are married than when you are divorced or not married (1).
A study conducted by the researchers at the Aston Medical School and the University of East Anglia found that married people were 14% less likely to die after a heart attack than single people and spend two fewer days in hospital than single people (2).
2. Improved sleep patterns
In a study conducted by Troxel WM, et al., a partner’s presence or being in a lasting relationship is associated with better sleep quality. The researchers believe that this could be due to improved health, more routine schedules, and greater financial security (3).
3. Increased sense of companionship and happiness
While marriage isn’t essential to feeling a sense of connectedness and happiness, it is undoubtedly the highest form of companionship one can share with someone. It results in more time spent together, lesser cases of loneliness, and higher life satisfaction from coming home to a loved one.
4. Improved health and lifestyle
In a marriage, the two partners agree to an unspoken contract of understanding and compromise. Whether it is not smoking for fear of your partner suffering from the effects of passive smoking or eating healthy because married couples tend to eat more home-cooked meals, marriages by nature tend to keep people healthy. It’s important to note that married couples tend to have far lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse as well.
5. Lower cases of stress and depression
According to a study conducted on more than 1,600 twin pairs, marriage is associated with a decrease in perceived stress and depressive symptoms. The researchers suggest that this could be due to the emotional support and advice readily available to married people, either from their partners or social circles, including the family (4).
6. Ideal environment to raise children
Children are largely the product of their influences, the most significant of which is their parents. That’s the primary reason children raised in a healthy marriage tend to have better social skills, academic performance, and overall development than children of unmarried or divorced parents.
1. Lifestyle changes
Married couples tend to take on each other’s positive habits or mannerisms over time. One of you might be more social, while the other person might be more reclusive and introverted. And one person might lead a more inactive life, while the other could be a fitness fanatic. Being in a marriage may help one find that perfect balance in between.
2. Physical security
Knowing that you have a partner waiting for you at home while you are on your way home at night, or having your spouse pick up or drop you adds an extra layer of physical security.
3. Lesser incidence of crimes committed
While criminals can be anyone, regardless of social or marital status, studies show that individuals in marriages, particularly men, are far less prone to commit a violent crime than unmarried individuals.
The reasons could be the added pressure of not disappointing the family, more chances of getting caught, changes in everyday routine, increased societal pressure, etc (5).
4. Increased social capital
Social capital is a relatively new concept that is only being studied extensively now. It’s benefits, however, have been around since the beginning of marriages themselves.
Marriage tends to generate additional social capital for both parties and society at large. It provides both members of the marriage and any offspring with greater access to social and cultural resources, facilitates better integration amongst communities, and improves social interactions.
While it is completely normal in not being married or not marrying, there is definitely a sense of pride that couples feel when they formalize their romantic relationship through marriage.
It can reflect not only in society’s perception of the couple and how they are judged or treated, but also in more tangible benefits, such as club memberships, invitations to social events, etc.
Tax Benefits Of Marriage
Tax benefits are amongst the most commonly known perks of marriage. And in cases where there is a significant gap in earnings due to one person working full time and the other being a homemaker, it can have a huge impact on the tax you pay.
1. Lower income tax
This might not be applicable in all situations but is still a very useful benefit. If one person in the marriage earns considerably less than the other, the overall tax is taken as roughly a median of both your incomes. This means the overall amount you pay in federal or income tax is significantly lower.
2. Lower property/ residency tax
Depending on which bracket you fall into and the value of your property, you can file for the exclusion of income if the value of your home goes up. The amount you can include in this exclusion is doubled in the case of married couples.
There are a few requirements you need to meet. Both parties in the marriage have to own the property in question and should have resided there for a fixed period (typically 2-5 years).
3. Convenience while filing tax returns
Once married, couples are eligible to file a single tax return instead of two separate ones. Aside from the financial advantages, it is also convenient, as you need not fuss over who made a tax-deductible donation or paid the property taxes.
4. No gift tax
Monetary gifts of a significant amount are subject to the gift tax. However, gifts exchanged between a married couple are exempted from tax up to any amount, provided you both are citizens of the country.
5. No estate tax
Estate tax essentially comes into play after one’s demise. If the assets or amount left to a person or institution in one’s will exceeds a certain amount, it is subject to estate tax. In the case of marriages, however, one can leave any amount they want to their spouse.
6. Increased access to benefits and deductions
Joint tax filings offer more potential for deductions and certain benefits. If your spouse is financially having a good year, while your business has operated at a loss, then that will be factored into your joint income tax return at the time of filing. Filing taxes together may even put you in a whole different (lower) tax bracket, thereby reducing your overall liability.
7. Both parties can have an IRA regardless of employment status
Typically, one has to be employed to be eligible to contribute to, and thus, receive benefits from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). In the case of married couples, however, both spouses are eligible for an IRA as long as one working spouse contributes to it.
Financial Benefits Of Being Married
Marriage is a big step for any relationship and not something you should enter into lightly. When you do find the right person though, you can consider yourself extremely lucky. Not only do you get to take possibly the biggest step in your relationship, but you also get access to a lot of financial perks. As you plan for your future life as a married couple, it’s extremely important that you decide how to split the expenses and manage your finances. As you do this, it’s important to keep some of these key benefits in mind.
8. Joint accounts
One of the first and most common things that newly married couples do is open a joint account. It allows them to jointly manage household expenses and ensures that conflict does not arise from their individual contributions.
Since both parties have equal access to the account and it is completely transparent, it goes a long way in building trust and a sense of partnership.
9. Combined credit score
Married couples are eligible to take out loans based on their combined credit score, thus enabling them to be eligible for more lucrative loans. This can particularly be beneficial if both your credit scores aren’t that great or if one of you has a low credit rating.
10. Advantages in mortgages
Married couples effectively have two sources of household income if both of them are working. Proven patterns of paying their bills on time and a decent credit score can result in them getting access to better mortgage deals than they would be able to individually.
Mortgage lenders generally prefer married couples because they have a higher incidence of paying the full amount of their mortgage and the associated interest than single homeowners.
11. Social Security payouts
In the unfortunate event of one’s spouse passing away, the surviving spouse is entitled to survivor benefits. This is particularly common in blue-collar jobs and the military.
There are also circumstances apart from death where they can avail social security payouts, such as if one’s spouse is disabled (especially if the incident is job-related) or is unable to work due to serious health issues. These typically require a minimum marriage threshold of a year or more.
12. Health insurance
Typically, couples tend to get a single plan for the whole family at some point. Until then, one can list their spouse as a dependent and allow them to avail of their health insurance plan if it provides better coverage, benefits, or costs. This can give the couple more flexibility with regards to which health insurance they want to avail and reduce the cost of maintaining it.
13. Private sector benefits
The financial benefits of marriage are not limited to the public sector and federal law alone. The private sector can also benefit many couples, depending on their workplace and policies.
Many firms now allow their employees’ spouses to enjoy certain benefits. These can be in the form of using the company car and gym, using their spouse’s employee discounts, using the firm’s onsite daycare center, or getting annual health checkups.
14. Low rent and cost of living
While this is a no-brainer on the surface, the impact of this is often extremely understated. In cities with an extremely high cost of living, such as New York, Mumbai, or Seoul, living with your spouse can reduce expenses drastically than if you were living on your own. Everything from rent to groceries, broadband connections to cable/Netflix subscriptions can make a significant impact on your monthly expenditure.
Legal Benefits Of Marriage
The law sees marriage as the highest form of a relationship. Thus, there are legal benefits that only married people have access to in the event of an emergency or other situations.
1. Emergency room benefits
In the event of an accident or critical medical problem, medical staff typically do not allow friends, roommates, or anyone to accompany the patient in the ambulance or be present in the emergency room or ICU. A spouse is typically exempt from these in most situations.
2. Right to sue someone on the deceased’s behalf
If there is potential willful wrongdoing, the surviving spouse can sue an individual or entity for wrongful death. This is particularly common in blue-collar industries or in jobs that involve immense physical involvement and risks.
3. Right to determine last rites and funeral
Unless expressly stated in the deceased party’s will and last testament, the surviving spouse has full legal rights to determine the last rites and funeral arrangements.
Decisions such as whether to cremate or bury, and in some cases, even sign off on organ or retina donation, can be taken by the spouse.
Not only is the surviving spouse exempt from the liability of estate or inheritance tax, but they are also the default inheritor if the spouse passed away without making a valid legal will and testament.
5. Prenuptial agreement
A couple can agree to a prenuptial agreement at the time of their marriage or formalize it later. This essentially guarantees a fair and judicial division of assets should the marriage end.
6. Family leave
This can manifest in many forms, most common of which are maternity/paternity leave, caretaker leave if your spouse is sick, and bereavement leave in the unfortunate event a family member passes away.
Benefits of Common Law Marriage
A common law marriage is one in which two people enter into a legally recognized marriage with very little or no civil or religious ceremony or other formalities.
1. No grand ceremony
Many people firmly believe in the institution of marriage and being married but do not want the whole fuss and ceremonial aspect of the marriage itself. So, in the case of a common law marriage, while they are legally married and enjoy the benefits of marriage, they don’t necessarily have to throw a grand wedding.
2. Ability to maintain a secular marriage
For couples of different backgrounds, religions, or cultures, common law marriage provides a more stable environment since the religious, social, and traditional burdens associated with a typical marriage are absent. This is particularly beneficial for couples who want to be married while maintaining a relatively low social profile.
Perhaps the most common reason couples opt for a common law marriage is the fact that only the two people getting married need to even know about the marriage in the first place. This is extremely advantageous for people who want to get married in secret, maintain their privacy, and not make a big show of their marriage and status as a couple.
Couples of the same-sex marriage or an interfaith marriage are often persecuted by individuals or groups for the nature of their relationship. In several countries, there is a high crime rate against LGBTQ people or hate crimes and honor killings against people in interfaith marriages. Common law marriage, thus, provides some layer of security.
5. Basic benefits of marriage
People in common law marriages are eligible for all the benefits that couples in “traditional” marriage receive.
These include healthcare coverage, tax deductions, and hospital/ER visitation privileges. These can also extend to eligibility for better mortgage agreements, loans, and improved credit scores.
6. Child custody
A child from a common law marriage is equally protected under all the aspects of child custody that apply to children of traditional marriage. In the event of the death of a parent, custody is usually passed on to the surviving party in marriage unless there is a good legal reason otherwise, such as proven history of abuse, criminal record, and drug abuse.
7. Division of assets
In the event a common law marriage ends, a prenuptial contract helps fairly divide the shared assets as per their roles and contributions in the marriage. This is applied the same way it would for any marriage, without discrimination and with the focus being on the equitable and fair distribution of assets and income.
While marriage is not the only prerequisite for reaping the benefits mentioned above, one has to admit that it’s becomes a lot easier when you have your partner with you through it all, the good times and the bad times.
2. Marriage could improve heart attack survival and reduce hospital stay; American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
3. Wendy M. Troxel, et al.; Marital/Cohabitation Status and History in Relation to Sleep in Midlife Women; Sleep (2010).
4. Christopher R. Beam, et al.; A Twin Study on Perceived Stress, Depressive Symptoms, and Marriage; J Health Soc Behav. (2017).
5. Robert J. Sampson, John H. Laub, and Christopher Wimer; DOES MARRIAGE REDUCE CRIME? A COUNTERFACTUAL APPROACH TO WITHIN-INDIVIDUAL CAUSAL EFFECTS; Harvard University