Why Should a Man Get Married?

I get asked this question all the time, and I think it’s one that’s got enough cultural pressure behind it that it’s worth discussing. From a purely financial standpoint, why should a man get married? Let’s look at the reasons behind this question first.

The argument against marriage for men is pretty straightforward. The most common reason given for men not to get married is that the financial outcome of divorce proceedings is seen to be unfair. As the argument goes, the average male salary in the United States is higher than the average female salary, yet when couples are divorced, the splits are often 50/50 – or, in some cases, skewed towards the partner with greater financial need.

Usually, along with this, issues and concerns about children are brought up as well, along with other concerns about losing the freedom to make life choices and so on. Generally, these issues fall much more into the realm of the emotional than the financial and vary so much on a case-by-case basis that they’re difficult to reasonably discuss.

Instead, I’m going to stick with the financial side of the equation.

Along with that, I’m also going to make a fairly bold statement for the anti-marriage folks out there: it’s financially beneficial for both men and women to get married. There are a lot of reasons for this.

Almost always, you’re both going to be bringing in an income. There will simply be more money coming in than before. Often, it’s a lot more money, approaching a doubling of income for both of you. That’s a lot more money to live on, day to day. There’s also the fact that you’ll have two sets of benefits to choose between. If one of you has better insurance, then you both have better insurance, for example.

You both benefit from economies of scale, meaning your expenses won’t rise as much as your income will. If you’re living in a one-bedroom apartment, it’s often very easy to get married and stay in the same place. Rent doesn’t go up, and the utilities will barely budge. Even if you do need to upgrade, your housing costs likely won’t double (like your income did). You’ll also be sharing electricity, phone service, internet service, and so on – one bill for each of these things instead of two. While food and household items will jump a fair amount, having both of you at home means that bulk buying makes more sense. Buy a gallon of milk instead of a container and you’ll be spending less per glass of milk, for example.

You have greater earnings stability. If you lost your job while single, there’s suddenly no income coming in. Panic time, in other words. If you’re married, you have a partner that will still be bringing in income, a partner that has a real stake in your survival and continued success. While it’s an urgent situation, it’s not a panic situation.

You have greater earnings potential, too. With a partner at home handling some of the household needs and providing emotional support, people can often use that as a springboard to achieve even greater success. This is often particularly true for males with children.

You have the “stable home” factor. Married couples often find greater success with things such as applying for mortgages and so on, particularly if they’re manually underwritten, because such family units are usually more stable than single folks.

But what about the pain of divorce? Most of the fears that men have about getting married are actually fears about divorce. The truth is that you can alleviate most of those fears by simply taking a few steps right now.

First, don’t get married until you’re absolutely sure. If you’re not sure, don’t sit on that reason, either. Don’t be afraid to talk about your concerns and make it clear to your partner why you don’t want to get married. If you can’t have that kind of open conversation about marriage, either you’re not emotionally ready for marriage or your partnership isn’t ready for it.

Second, if you have assets you want to protect, get a prenupital agreement. Part of a good prenupital agreement is a base understanding that you’re both going to financially benefit from this marriage for many of the reasons stated above. An agreement that says that one of the partners takes nothing away from the marriage in case of divorce isn’t a healthy agreement for either party to sign. One approach is to use your current individual net worths as part of the equation, perhaps setting aside the assets you entered the marriage with before dividing up the rest in some fair fashion. Remember, if you’re coming into this marriage with no net worth but big dreams of getting rich, a big part of you getting rich is the support of your partner, who has earned that stake because of the support provided.

Finally, look at your behavior and your partner’s behavior honestly. Are you engaging (or seriously considering engaging) in activities that would lead to divorce when you’re engaged? Is your partner? If you find it easy to engage in patterns that would lead to divorce while you’re seriously considering marriage, then your relationship has problems deep enough that you shouldn’t get married. In short, don’t ever put yourself in a situation where divorce looks likely.

What about children? The decision to have children is a complicated one and, in my opinion, is a very distinct one from the marriage question. Many of the concerns that men express about marriage tend to actually be concerns about becoming a father, and I think that becoming a father is a decision guys should never enter into lightly.

My opinion is that many people fear marriage for emotional reasons, but often find financial ones easier to state. Modern marriages usually are financially beneficial to both people involved.

I’ll certainly say that, in our case, marriage has been an enormous financial benefit. It was because of my wife’s stable job that I was able to make the leap to turning The Simple Dollar into a sustainable business, and it was because of that sustainable business that my wife was able to leave work for most of a year to be a stay-at-home mother. After all that, the only debt we have is our home mortgage. None of this would have happened without our marriage and the stability it has given us.

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  1. Pat S. says:

    Though I can’t remember the precise statistic, I recall from reading “The Millionaire Next Door” that a vast majority of American millionaires are married. Whether this is due to their more stable lifestyle, higher likelihood of owning a home, or the impetus to earn more with a family and children to feed I cannot say. But I know that the stability and security that comes from the support of a loving wife makes everything else in life seem easier, including saving, investing and remaining debt free.

  2. Johanna says:

    There’s so much to unpack here that it would take all day. So I’ll just say this: If you’re so upset by the prospect of a 50/50 divorce settlement that it puts you off the whole idea of marriage, then don’t get married. You’ll be doing some unsuspecting woman a big favor.

  3. Amanda says:

    I think this is a case for being in a long term relationship, not getting married. My bf and I cohabitate, have a joint account, and have combined our financial assets. We benefit from everything stated above (except maybe the comment about mortgages), yet we aren’t married.

  4. Steve says:

    It’s not very scientific, since there are a lot of variables at play, but: my “household” net worth started going up a lot faster when my wife joined the household.

  5. edenz says:

    Wow – this is one site where I never expected to this this level of misogyny.

    Your argument against marriage, “my money-grubbing ex-wife will take everything,” has no cited factual basis; while you ignore the financial reasons that factually exist for women not to get married:
    A — married women (even if they don’t have children) make less than men (married and single) and single women
    B — married women do more housework than men (both married and single) and single women
    C — after a divorce, contrary to the stereotype you’re perpetrating, women generally end up in a much worse financial situation than their ex-husbands

    I’m extremely disappointed Trent – you can do better.

  6. Lauren says:

    It has also been shown that, on average, men benefit more from marriage than women do, since women generally end up with the cleaning and child care.

  7. Poko says:

    What about the increased tax burden? I’m not really looking to get married any time soon, but looking at the married tax brackets is making it even less appealing.

    Presently, I’m enjoying the benefits of a two income household by living with my boyfriend, but if we were married, I would move up into a higher tax bracket.

    I guess this doesn’t matter when the husband and wife have very different incomes, or if one partner is going to stay home. But in my situation, I don’t really see the benefit of signing those papers.

  8. Michelle says:

    When I read the title, I thought this was going to be about actually getting married, not partnering up with someone. I have all of the benefits you listed, but I am not married.

  9. Lee says:

    Excellent points – I’m facing probable layoff in a few months, and I started to panic a little, like a single person (we haven’t been yet married a year). My husband immediately pointed out that since his job is stable and covers most of the bills, I should use the time to try to find something that I truly love – and it’s probably as good a time as any to start a family. So I’m now planning to temp part time and focus on adding skills, and then possibly starting a home business. We’ll see!

  10. BrentABQ says:

    Seems as if most of these benefits comes from having a roommate or business partner and a decent emergency fund. I’m not saying marriage isn’t good, but Its kind of a really specific contract that can or cannot pay off. But if its financially uneven the consequences of it failing can be great.

  11. Diane says:

    Hasn’t it also been proven that married men actually live longer?

  12. valleycat1 says:

    not to mention that you generally pay less in income tax if you file married/joint rather than independently as singles.

    I’ve read that whereas married men live longer & are happier than single men, the situation for women is the reverse.

  13. Looby says:

    I can’t believe you get asked this question all the time.
    That said however, most of your answers aren’t things that rely on marriage:
    Living together and sharing expenses, having a larger household income, sharing employer benefits are all things that my male partner gains from our common-law partnership. Which aren’t any different than what I gain as a woman…

  14. The Frugal Vegan says:

    Interesting post! I have never been a fan of marriage myself (for many reasons) but I agree with everything you said about it being financially beneficial. For us, marriage has been financially very beneficial. Neither of us wanted kids (and we were in our early twenties knowing this and we have the same views about money as well which is VERY important (we never fight about money). I’ve always snubbed marriage but we married 16 years ago on a whim and never realized how many financial perks we would get because of it. Though to be honest, if the marriage ever failed, I’d walk away with a bag of clothes and never look back. Money isn’t everything!

  15. Brent says:

    From a budget and cash flow standpoint, the economics of scale play a huge part in cohabitation. You save a good chunk of money by not doubling up on gas, electricity, cable, internet, phone plans, and food basics. I would estimate we cut $100+ per month out of our monthly bills when we got married without taking a hit on our quality of life.

  16. CNM says:

    Where do you get the idea that men are usually treated unfairly in divorces? I believed it to be quite the opposite, especially considering that wives are generally the ones to leave the workforce to take care of the child-rearing and household.

  17. Ian says:

    Are any of these arguments for getting married, or just for living together? Should two people get married if they aren’t going to have kids and aren’t religious?

  18. marta says:

    PrenupTIAL.

    (this is a consistent mistake from you)

    As for the post, it would be interesting to see the counterpoint for women. I have also heard the statement that married women aren’t happier than single ones.

  19. lurker carl says:

    About a dozen of us talked about this at work, men of all ages and marital status and several young ladies chimed in as well. Interestingly, no one specifically mentioned divorce or money. The reasons that came up with for men not to marry:

    Why buy a cow when milk is free?

    Instant splitsville when the relationship gets rocky, needy, awkward, boring, (insert your reason here).

    Can’t find the “perfect” woman.

    Looking for a mommy substitute.

    Gay.

    Too weird even for the most desperate woman.

  20. nebula says:

    Why should anyone get married? I can think of many reasons but none of them are monetary: because you can’t live without that person, because you can’t imagine living without them, because you want to entrust your life in their keeping and you want that person and only that person to have a say in what happens to you if you are hurt, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to defend yourself or speak for yourself. Because you want that person to be the only relative that you get to choose in this life. That’s why I married!

  21. Carolyn says:

    Gotta give you guys a reality update for the educated in 2011… I am 40; and in my marriage – and the marriages/partnerships of my friends/collegues – the woman is the one that makes the higher salary!

  22. Carolyn says:

    PS I am in the NYC metro area if that makes a difference

  23. NewReader says:

    My husband and I were living together and already felt like committed life partners, but several years ago we decided to get married anyway, to save self-employed moi the $400+/mo. I was spending in medical insurance, not to mention my out-of-pocket dental expenses. If we were living in Canada or the UK (we’re in America) we would probably still be happily co-habitating. We’re together either way, so it’s fine with me.

  24. Alex says:

    I also don’t see how these benefits are dependent on marriage. You could get them all from living together. And you wouldn’t get much of them by getting married and keeping separate finances, or getting married, having kids, and one parent staying home with the kids.

  25. Kathleen says:

    Tax-wise, marriage isn’t advantageous unless one spouse is a low earner or non-wage earner. Otherwise, there’s the classic “marriage penalty.”

  26. ross says:

    All these things also apply to a boyfriend and girlfriend shacking up… even my crappy insurance will let me add a gf as a domestic partner.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    Looby: Not all governments acknowledge common-law relationships: my state does not. Marriage is required for the legally controlled benefits, which include coverage by my (significantly-better) medical, dental and vision plans. My husband’s salary would simply not pay for benefits as rich as my employer provides for about $150/paycheck.

    I believe, by the way, that in the US, there is a steadily increasing proportion of couples in which the woman is making more than the man. It’ll be interesting to see if growing salary equality changes the logic behind choosing marriage over the next generation.

  28. partgypsy says:

    You forgot to mention that being married reduces risk factors for a number of diseases (such as cardiovascular) and is associated with increased longevity and self-rated happiness (compared to unmarried). The increased health may be due to a combination of healthier people more likely to marry, reduction in poor health habits (in men), and increased health insurance coverage (in women), but as medical care has such a big factor on financial well-being it seems good to mention.

  29. partgypsy says:

    #16 I also don’t understand the assumption that marriage is financially the worse deal for men. Even if there is a divorce men recover much faster financially than women do, both from higher earning power and not putting their career on back burner for marriage. Married men earn more than single men (built in support system), however high wage women are much more likely to divorce (support system not reciprical).
    Also I can think off the top of my head a number of instances where the man is or was out of work and the woman is financially supporting the family. I think this is more common than people ever talk about.

  30. bogart says:

    OK, but with the exception of the insurance none of the benefits you list are benefits of marriage — just partnership. And even there, though you write, “If one of you has better insurance, then you both have better insurance, for example,” you’re at best grossly oversimplifying. First, I could cover my husband as a domestic partner were we not married, though he could not return the favor. Moreover, my husband has better insurance from his employer than he would from my employer, and I have better insurance from my employer than I would from his. The plans are roughly comparable, but in each case our employer subsidizes the employee (him/me) a lot more than it subsidizes spousal coverage.

    Yet there are real financial benefits to marriage, such as some tax benefits in some circumstances and social security benefits. It’s odd you completely ignore these given your topic.

  31. Liz says:

    What Michelle said. Most of this can also be accomplished by living together, so it misses the mark. The article doesn’t live up to its title. How about focusing on the real financial benefits of marriage itself?

  32. Marinda says:

    Oh, goodness, not an outstanding post, some confusion about marriage and its benefits for men and women. The best part was don’t get married unless you are really sure about what you are doing. Realize that even knowing who you love, the marriage could end in divorce. But commit to the ride and it can be a fine one. I’ve been in my marriage for 33 years, retired, house and cars paid for, children educated and living independent lives emotionally and moneywise. I am healthy, happy and enjoying all the benefits of being in a loving, healthy, sexy relationship with a wonderful man who still make my toes curl.

  33. According to JD at Get Rich Slowly, a man should get married so that while keeping their finances 100% separate, he gets to pay his wife (with gasoline) to do his laundry. Awesome.

  34. David says:

    A reason that might not occur to many:

    When the Scottish historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle married Jane Baillie Welsh, many of their contemporaries considered it an error on both sides.

    Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of England’s greatest poets, is said to have remarked to one such dissenter:

    “I cannot agree with you. By any other arrangement, four people would have been unhappy instead of two.”

  35. Victor says:

    Arthur Schopenhauer said it best, I think: “Marrying means, to grasp blindfolded into a sack hoping to find out an eel out of an assembly of snakes.” And that was before the invention of the no fault divorce. ;)

  36. Rachel says:

    LOL @ #22 David

  37. Tizzle says:

    There are many benefits to marriage over a partnership. Even if there is a tax penalty. For instance: sharing a nursing home room, hospital visitation rights, wills/pension stuff. A super quick google search said there are over 1000 benefits to marriage.

    I think in my state (WA) I can get those benefits with a domestic partnership, but they only apply to the state specific ones, not federal benefits.

  38. kathy says:

    I know an older couple.. maybe on social security, or disability ( he walks with a walker). They just got married a couple months ago. A good christian couple. They were recently very sad to discover “her” check was decreased by $600. and they have to repay for the months, they were “overpaid,” that is their only income. I don’t know why the woman’s check was the decreased check, or why somehow they are entitled to less.. they were already living together prior to marriage, so for them it was a huge hit.

  39. Jeroen says:

    Trent,
    none of the advantages you cite have anything to do with marriage. Being in a commited living together relationship has all the same benefits.

    If there are legal benefits to marriage in the US, maybe you should list those, instead of the above.

  40. This can be discussed and argued forever if marriage is only discussed in financial terms–which I know was the case of the post. The crux is that the beauty and nobility of marriage cannot be measured in numbers. The economic benefits are icing on the cake. The real benefits are having a loving, secure, peaceful place to live, to be, to raise kids. A good marriage provides the infrastructure to have time to educate them well, to play with them, be with them, raising future successful professionals, confident and good citizens. Kids who grow up under parents who had the courage to publicly commit to each other for life–and make it happen, through work and love, everyday–are winners. The rewards of the giving-life for a married couple are immense. I am married for 25 years and have always been a mother at home, homeschooling the kids, making meals, providing for my husband and children a sanctuary. This is what my mother did, and his mother. It is simple and beautiful, it is noble and it brings happiness and fulfillment. I highly recommend it. There is a huge spiritual dimension as well, but even in just natural terms marriage makes sense. Thanks for the post!

  41. Courtney20 says:

    Your ‘argument against marriage’ for men is bordering on ridiculous. I don’t have the exact numbers handy but the standard of living for men drops far less than the standard of living for women post-divorce (I want to say it’s something like 3% for men and 15-20% for women).

  42. Evangeline says:

    This is such a stupid post. You get married for one reason and one reason only. You love someone and want to spend the rest of your life as spouses.

  43. VickiB says:

    Wow – so many things to consider. According to MOST everything I’ve read, DH and I did it all wrong ! Married at 23, both dirt poor, no pre-marriage counseling, lotta love but maybe not a whole lotta thought. Prenup? For what??? Now, 20 years later, prosperity, deep friendship, and like Trent, for me, able to leave cubicle land to start a new venture due to our couple stability ! Can’t speak for the guys, but of all the married women I’ve worked with over the years, MOST are not fulfilled in their marriage. Once the kids come along, hubby is just another one of the kids, and neither spouse is nice to the other anymore. Kind of sad. We purposely did not have children because we just weren’t inclined that way. At first he earned more, then I earned more, now the equation is changing back. I would not change the last 20 years for anything in the world. I try to be nice to him – he is an ADULT, and we are two independent people, who treat each other respectfully.

  44. Richard says:

    Get your prenup. Then make sure you have a legal separation with a LEGAL property settlement signed by both parties. You’ve managed to raise the kids by sharing all responsibilities and love. Now go to court for the divorce after everything is said and done. No fault divorce, all paper work in hand. Then watch a female judge take the paper work, crumble it up, throw it in the garbage and then advise you none of the legal documents are any good in her court.
    Walk out of the court owing 5 years of alimony. No property division. It happened to me . Think about it before you sign a legal document with the STATE rather than just vows drawn up between,you, your wife and God.

  45. Kevin says:

    Like the others, I was a little confused initially by this post. I was expecting to read reasons specific to actually getting MARRIED, but many of the benefits apply to people co-habitating too. It’s almost as though it didn’t occur to Trent that people can live together without being married.

    Regarding the whole “happiness” issue and marriage, I’d be very, very interested to read the statistics that include a correlation with children. Are married couples happier than unmarried couples? How do the results change when children are introduced into the equation? It seems to me that intuitively, children can exacerbate an already troubled marriage and drive it to divorce, where a child-free couple may manage to work through their problems and stick it out. Also, I wonder if lifelong child-free couples report being happier and having fewer regrets than couples who’ve been through the experience of raising kids. Certainly, they must at the very least be better off financially, which we already know has a correlation with happiness.

  46. BobSutan says:

    “Where do you get the idea that men are usually treated unfairly in divorces?”

    It’s called the facts. For example, 84% of child custody goes to women. Another example, TROs are rubber stamped, despite their being unconstitutional. And one more example, there are tons of resistance to absolving men of child support even when it’s known they’re not the father.

  47. David says:

    Trent, I noticed that you don’t have Elizabeth Warren’s book “Two-Income Trap” on your list of books you’ve reviewed on this site. She offers some interesting insight regarding households where BOTH husband and wife are pulling in an income. Aside from hearing your thoughts on what she has to say about this arrangement, I would be interested in seeing if this book would change you views in this posting.

  48. Jessica says:

    My husband benefits from:
    *I earn more than he does at this time, and it’s been that way for 6 years of our 8.5 year marriage (the first year, I was a graduate student and we earned about the same, the second year we also earned the same and then I got a promotion)
    *I cook. He does not. Therefore he gets fed regular, inexpensive and fairly healthy meals.
    *I do the shopping, which he hates. This saves him time and annoyance. I am a couponer so it also saves money.
    *Together, we have given him a genetic legacy by having two children. One is even a son, so his “name will go on”, in the words of my in-laws.

  49. Amy says:

    Why, oh why, must people in this society view EVERYTHING in terms of money? Is nothing sacred? Must we financially justify every single choice we make in life? Must we convince ourselves that every single choice we make is of financial “benefit” to us, as individuals, or else reject that choice?

    I guess if your entire purpose for being is to earn and keep as much money as possible, then don’t ever get married and certainly don’t ever have children, or for that matter, a dog or cat. Get a good paying job, never share a penny with anyone else (including your spouse and children) unless you are absolutely sure that you will get it back, live for yourself and no one else, never help a little old lady across the street (unless she pays you for it), do not donate to good causes, and never, ever for even one second consider doing something solely for the good of others, especially future generations. (After all, you’ll be dead before they will, so where’s the return on your investment?)

    Financial solvency and responsiblity are formidably good things, BUT THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN MONEY.

    Life has meaning to the extent that you give of yourself, nurture others, and contribute to the greater good – even if you end up with (horrors!) less money for your very own self. I find it incredibly sad that so many people can’t even begin to comprehend the concept.

  50. Maureen says:

    @ #31: sounds like you’re getting the crappy end of the deal.

    Bottom line is, if you’re a man, get married because you’ll be better off than a single man in pretty much every way (health, happiness, earnings, domestic chores, life expectancy). If you’re a woman, stay single!

  51. Michelle says:

    Heck, you don’t even have to be in a romantic relationship for most of these. A roommate and a decent support system will do the same.

    I fully support marriage, I think it’s especially beneficial if a couple wants to have children together. And chosing the wrong spouse can certainly be a financial detriment. But I don’t see the converse as being true – there seem to be very few financial benefits to being married, and those are minimal.

  52. Nancy says:

    First, I think it’s sad that the first thing people think about when getting married, is divorce. I don’t think the majority of people think like that, but that’s what the post implied.

    That being said, I want to re-iterate what several other commenters said. Overall, men are the main beneficiaries in most marriages. Women lose their identities by changing their last name, they end up doing most of the housework and child care when they get married on top of usually having a full-time job. Research shows that men who are married live longer and are happier–this does not hold true for women.

    So the arguement for women to not get married is actually much stronger. I believe, however, that both men and women should strive for more equal partnerships.

  53. Adam P says:

    The benefits listed having nothing to do with being married, unless you mean co-habitation with a partner instead of marriage?

    This should be called “Why should a man shack up with his partner”.

  54. R S says:

    @ #16 Elizabeth, I agree, especially in cities, women are making more than men.

    @ #7 valleycat – married couples filing joint or separately only pay less in taxes when one has a smaller or no income. In my area, that is never the case. My recently married friends were mortified to see their taxes increase so drastically once they were legally married, compared to when they live together.
    @ #26 Jeroen I agree, the benefits Trent has listed apply to committed relationships. Since I am terrified of marriage, but moving forward in a committed relationship, this is what I’ve found out true marriage benefit-wise:
    1) Spousal Social Security Benefit – if you die, your spouse can collect on your death..
    2) Not all insurance policies cover domestic partners, but all of them allow you to cover your spouse. In this economy, with health care costs on the rise, this is could be significant, if either partner’s job may disappear.

    My biggest question comes down to taxes with regards to mortgages. I own a house (mortgage in my name) where we will live. If I lose my job and have no income for the year, and he pays the mortgage, can he deduct the interest & property taxes on his taxes?
    If we were married, filing jointly, this would be a non-issue. However, as two individuals, I haven’t figured out how to make sense of the situation, since the 1098 would come in my name.

  55. AnnJo says:

    Many states now allow for legal actions to dissolve cohabiting partners’ relationships, including a division of property and debts acquired during the cohabitation. So if you view divorce laws as unfair to men, you won’t necessarily avoid all of those laws by simply living together.

    Growing up without both parents in the household seems to be associated with many negative outcomes for children financially, emotionally, educationally and health-wise. This association may be merely correlative rather than causative, but it suggests that if the reason you choose not to marry is that you are uncertain about your partner’s suitability, then you should avoid having children with someone you can’t commit to.

    There are many wonderful step-parents out there, and many rotten parents who are better out of their children’s lives, and many divorced parents who work very hard to avoid harming their children, so please don’t flame me over this comment; I’m speaking of overall statistics and those hold true regardless of the exceptions.

  56. Dusie says:

    Total agreement with everyone who said that this post describes co-habitation more than it does marriage.

    Aside from the benefits argument (which, according to comments, CAN apply, but in my case doesn’t), this post basically said to me “This is why you don’t have to get married! You’ve got all this already!”

  57. AnnJo says:

    @R S, the answer to your question about your partner deducting the mortgage interest and taxes on his taxes is No. You have to be the homeowner to deduct (or married to her and filing jointly).

    Technically, your live-in is your tenant, and if the amount he pays you to live there (including the mortgage payment and utilities) exceeds the deductible items, you are receiving taxable rental income. (Not that there’s much chance you would be caught for failing to report it.)

  58. Adam P says:

    Also, all those who believe that marriage makes people this that and the other more than cohabitation is relying on OLD studies. New studies are coming around that show that people who live together but aren’t married are just as XYZ quality as people are live together but are married.

  59. SwingCheese says:

    @Adam P: There was a study (or maybe more than one) done about 15-20 years ago which stated that people who lived together before marriage were more likely to divorce. Do you know of any recent studies that refute or confirm this? If I had to guess, I’d say that about 50% of folks who lived together before marriage end up divorced, but I’d be interested in the studies, if they are out there.

  60. Des says:

    @#30 Kevin

    The book “Stumbling on Happiness” has just these statistics. According to their studies:

    – Married couples are happier than unmarried
    – Children make people less happy, and the more children the more this is true.
    – The unhappiness from children peaks once when they are toddlers, dips when they enter school, peaks again as teens, and disappears when they leave the house. Thus, couples with grown children have the same happiness level as childless couples.

    The conclusion of the book is that people are not good at guessing what will make them happy. Statistically, the only things that made people happy across the board were marriage and religion (any religion).

  61. Evita says:

    Living together as partners sure saves money! but getting actually married ?
    Where I live, legally married people must share “patrimony” equally when they divorce: family house, family car and pension plans. Regardless to the amount of money contributed by any spouse (can be zero). No prenup can reverse this.
    Needless to say, the number of cohabiting couples surpasses the number of married couples!!

  62. Katie says:

    On the marriage studies, we have to remember that correlation does not equal causation. For instance, perhaps people who don’t live together before marriage are less likely to get divorced because they’re more likely to have strong religious objections to divorce rather than because their marriage is better. Perhaps married people are happier because happy people are more likely to make a marriage successful rather than because marriage makes them happy. You can’t just throw out the statistic and assume it’s a guide to behavior; conforming your own behavior to match may or may not hit on the things that created the statistical pattern and so you may or may not get conforming results.

  63. Kenia says:

    I find it funny that MEN are worried about their finances after divorce. It’s WOMEN that need to be concerned. It’s a FACT (Research done at the Institute for Social and Economic Research
    University of Essex)that men gain financially after a divorce, and women lose out financially.

    To quote from the paper: “For the period 1991–1997, the average fall in income for separating mothers between the year before and the year after the marital split was –30%, whereas for the period 1998–2004, the average fall in income for this group was –12%. The corresponding figures for separating husbands were 36% and 31%.”

    That’s a HUGE difference! Here is the website containing a link to the paper (.pdf file): http://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/publications/working-papers/iser/2008-07

    Consider the fact that, the woman is *usually* (as in, majority of marriages, not all) the one who sacrifices career to stay home and take care of children – or to work parttime to make time for the home – or to take lower paying jobs that allow them the flexibility to shoulder the domestic duties. And it’s no walk in the park taking care of a home & children. The fact is, it is an equal partnership, and just because a man typically earns more money, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t split all the assets 50/50. Just because the woman doesn’t earn a paycheck doesn’t mean it isn’t work. It’s unfortunate how little value our society places on parenthood and household management.

  64. Tony says:

    I was married to a shopaholic for three years. After spending all her money and most of mine on superficial stuff she racked up $40K in credit card debt. After the divorce I ended up with half of the debt. It has taken me years to recover to the same level I had before the marriage, I will marry again only if her net worth is equal or higher than mine. In the meantime I enjoy most of the benefits on this post without any of the risks of marriage.

  65. Mel says:

    I agree with those saying the post sounds more like it’s for co-habitation rather than marriage specifically.

    Personally, I don’t believe that being married or not makes a difference to the actual relationship (legal differences notwithstanding). My reason? I grew up living with both Mum and Dad (together, in the same house), and was 14 years old before I realised that my parents were not married. Having said that, I will be married next month and both my siblings are married.

  66. Derek says:

    The financial arguments in this post really make a good case for why gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, especially from the tax and benefit side of things. There is no reason why companies and governments should be allowed to discriminate against the GLBT population, and deny them those privileges.

    You can argue about your personal beliefs and morals all day if you’d like, but in the end you have to ask yourself if you really think that it makes sense that the government limit a citizens rights based on such grounds. From a financial/benefits standpoint, it’s nothing short of cruel.

  67. Jonna says:

    I think this video makes it pretty obvious why a man should never get married: http://goo.gl/f4pXo

  68. Adam P says:

    @ #40 SwingCheese

    Yes, I recently read that the numbers no longer hold up about living together before marriage leading to divorce. The studies are old, times have changed, and using Ward and June Cleaver-esque old timey studies fro the 60-70-80s in the 2010s+ doesn’t hold anymore.

    Soceity has changed HUGE and will continue to change and evolve. The last recession that we were in or are in was a game changer for men/women in the workplace (men much more likely to be unemployed); to say nothing of the way soceity views common law/ cohabitation since the 70s and 80s. Blindly believing some study done 30 or more years ago applies to today’s culture and your own relationship in particular as Trent sometimes does is not wise.

  69. joan says:

    Interesting debate on the pros/cons of marriage. Not to completely change the tone of this thread or anything, but until marriage equality is a reality in California, the benefits (if any) wouldn’t apply to me anyway.

  70. Courtney20 says:

    @ Katie #43 – you are correct to point out correlation/causation and the idea that religious beliefs would preclude both premarital co-habitation and divorce. But in surveying people regarding their beliefs about co-habitation, the researchers also noticed a trend about the mentality towards the relationship. People who co-habitated first went into the ‘living together’ stage with the thought that “If this doesn’t work out, I can always move out.” That sentiment carried over into the marriage, because by then very little changed in their day-to-day life. Whereas people who had not co-habitated first tended to start their ‘living together’ stage with the idea of permanency already established towards the relationship, because the marriage (or at least engagement) preceded the co-habitation and there was a definitive mental ‘line’ between non-married life versus married life.

    There are also statistics to show that people with ‘courtships’ (defined as dating+engagement) ranging from 2-3 years had the longest lasting marriages. Interestingly though, people with courtships shorter than a year had, on average, longer lasting marriages than people with very long courtships (more than 7 years). The reasoning behind this was that people who marry very quickly tend to hold on to the initial ‘rush’ of the relationship and are reluctant to give that up, while people who have been together for a very long time and then marry tend to expect that marriage will solve the problems in their relationships, and then are disappointed when it doesn’t.

  71. nemo says:

    You say that a wife will bring in an extra income, but you have neglected a relevant point here. The wife will think of BOTH of the incomes are her’s to spent. And, if you try to get her to agree to a budget, then she will feel cheated.

    This is just one of the reasons why I disagree with your article.

    I think that marriage is important (from both a moral and social perspective). I think that marriage produces all sorts of advantages for both spouses. But it is extremely rare for a man to obtain any financial benefit from marriage.

  72. KarenJ says:

    The argument that men end up supporting women after divorce is false. All studies show that women’s standard of living decreases after divorce, while the man’s increases. I was given 50% of the debt incurred during the marriage even though he made three times more than me which forced me into bankruptcy, while he maintained his good credit. The reasons for divorce are complicated and cannot always be predicted. People grow and change in a relationship and sometimes grow apart. Emotional and psychological “baggage” brought into the relationship from the family of origin often leads to ongoing issues that can not always be resolved within the relationship. I am blissfully married for 11 years for the 2nd time, and I can tell you that we are both happier, healthier and wealthier as a result of our union.

  73. Tara C says:

    Had 2 bad divorces and don’t plan to marry again, but have been with the same man now for 10 years… I’m having as one friend has described it as a gay marriage: we have each other as power of attorney, in our wills, beneficiaries, etc. to cover all the legal/medical bases. Don’t plan to have kids so no need there either. We just don’t want the government in our relationship at this point. Perhaps some day we will change our mind but there is no appeal right now.

  74. Davina says:

    It always surprises me to hear some guys talk like marriage is a trap laid to make them miserable and give women most of their money and goods.

    If you read the New York Times or Time magazine regularly, you’d know about the research showing that marriage benefits men more than women, that married men tend to be the happiest and healthiest, single women the next, and married women at the bottom, and that on divorce, women’s financial well being takes a huge plunge–something like 75%, while men’s goes up 20%.

    It’s women that ought to reconsider the benefits of marriage.

  75. Nicole says:

    Hmm, I have not seen anything indicating that those statistics have changed; everything I have read about it is fairly recent…

  76. Amanda says:

    My aunt gave me the best advice I’ve heard about marriage: “If you can live without him, do. If you can’t, then I guess you’ll just have to marry him.”

  77. Marle says:

    @12
    lurker carl, how do you claim that no one in your discussion brought up divorce when the second reason you give for men to not marry is “splitsville”?

    As for the question of marriage vs shacking up, legal marriage provides a lot of benefits that two people who are spending the rest of their lives together need. That’s why gay people are fighting so hard for it. I go to a very gay friendly church, and my now-husband and I went to a workshop there for “unmarried couples” (they really meant gay, but didn’t turn us away) and how to protect yourselves legally. There we watched a lawyer go through all the paperwork required for wills, living wills, power of attorney, etc, and tell us of all the horror stories with couples that didn’t have the right paperwork or even some who did but then couldn’t visit their lover in the hospital or lost their home to estranged family members after their lover’s death. My husband and I had been living together for 3 years with barely a thought to marriage, but we were engaged a few weeks after that workshop. If you’re going to be with a partner for a long time and possibly your whole life, it makes more sense to be married if you can be.

  78. haverwench says:

    The primary argument you cite *against* marriage–“the average male salary in the United States is higher than the average female salary, yet when couples are divorced, the splits are often 50/50″–seems to apply only to men marrying women. So it sounds like there is no good reason for a gay man not to marry another man: he would get all the benefits you cited (increased income, greater stability, economies of scale) without any of the drawbacks.

  79. Brandon says:

    Co-habitation is superior in many respects to marriages financially – no marriage contract, same benefits. Spiritual marriages do not require a legal contract either.

  80. Liz says:

    I earn 2.5 times what my male partner does and am coming into the marriage with a 350K retirement fund. So it’s highly unlikely he is getting the “worse deal.”

    National averages do not tell individual stories. Nowadays, just as many women as men don’t want to get married, for the exact reason the author cites – the women are now in a position to be taken to the cleaners in court, too.

    When all’s said and done, however, I find it’s easy to pick suitable marriage partners. The men who aren’t suitable weed themselves out nearly immediately when they start whinging about the battle between the sexes as if we’re all in primary school and the opposite sex has cooties.

  81. Liz says:

    By the way, I am not referring to the author, but to the bitter people we all know and love (and barely tolerate, both online and IRL) who have such a charming habit of telling us why “all men” or “all women” do “this” or “that” and blaming the opposite sex for their problems with relationships. The author presented a nicely balanced point of view, and one that I am afraid many people do not entertain in the emotionally charged arena of dating.

    My mum, my partner’s ex, and some friends and online buddies have at times dug themselves their own holes with such ways of thinking. Come to think of it, these sorts of defeatist attitudes are our obstacles in many areas of life…work…children…friends…and many more!

  82. C.C. says:

    I was struck by the assumption underlying this post: that men will marry women, and women will marry men. That is not always true, and your heteronormative outlook probably alienates potential readers.

  83. partgypsy says:

    I’m having to read a lot of quality of life and satisfaction articles for my job, and they include being married as a covariate because it still almost always comes up as significantly (positively) related to quality of life or satisfaction measures. The articles I’m reading are for elderly or those with serious illness, with the implication that the difference in satisfaction has to do with greater social/instrumental support. These are recent articles so the relationship is still a strong one.
    Courtney I’ve heard people referencing these articles but have never seen them. Personally I lived (in sin) with my husband for 5 years before we got married. For us the big commitment was moving in together, not getting married, which again, is just a piece of paper, not your relationship. We are also friends with a couple who are one of the happiest couples we know, who are going on 20+ years of living together unmarried. Some people who move in together may be “trying it out” and other may simply have a less orthodox view of marriage, but no less committment to the relationship.

  84. I like the fact that how when one of your incomes suffer, the other one is there to pick up the slack in the meanwhile.

  85. Todd says:

    What a creepy post. The assumptions in the question seem all wrong to me. It’s like asking, “Why should I give money to help keep a hungry person alive? Is it worth the tax deduction for me?”

    If you don’t want to give what you have to someone else, don’t get married. Why would you want to marry someone under the premise of “I don’t want her to touch my stuff (or get my money).” I’ve been married for 30 years, and nothing has ever made me happier than knowing if something happened to me (or to our marriage) my wife would have her share of what I’ve earned.

  86. Elysian says:

    The title and tone of this article are disappointingly misogynistic. This shows in the comments.
    “You say that a wife will bring in an extra income, but you have neglected a relevant point here. The wife will think of BOTH of the incomes are her’s to spent. And, if you try to get her to agree to a budget, then she will feel cheated.”
    Come on. This article and the discussion/rant it created are a disappointment.

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