Why A Good Marriage Is The Best Thing For Happiness

by Jonathan Eli Herrick, LCSW

NEW YORK TIMES 3/30/10: “THE SANDRA BULLOCK TRADE”

Times columnist David Brooks writes intelligently about hard, contemporary research on personal relationships – and on marriage in particular.

He takes Sandra Bullocks’ recent experience as a starting point and poses the question: “Would you take an Academy Award over a faithful partner and happy marriage?”

Sandra BullockHe points out that “winning the lottery doesn’t seem to produce lasting gains in well-being.(However) the daily activities most associated with happiness are sex and socializing.”

“According to another study, being married produces a psychic equivalent to more than $100,000 a year.”

He goes on to show what research says: “Most of us pay attention to the wrong things.” Americans vastly over-estimate how money and professional success will bring them happiness; and greatly under-estimate how important personal relationships are for happiness.

In study after study, it’s marriage and other close relationships that produce true, lasting happiness for people. As Brooks also says: “Economic and professional success exists on the surface of life.interpersonal relationships.are much deeper and more important.”