Marriage Touted as Good for Health

Article excerpt

American culture tolerates cohabiting couples and tends to think favorably of divorce. But data show that marriage is by far the healthier, wealthier and happier lifestyle, University of Chicago scholar Linda Waite told a conference on marriage yesterday.

The "Smart Marriages, Happy Families" conference, sponsored by the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, offered dozens of workshops ranging from expanding community support for marriage to surviving adultery - a pervasive cause of marital collapse.

"We think we see a solution" in marriage education, said Diane Sollee, the conference director.

"Marriage is not a crapshoot. It's not about whether you're `lucky in love.' And it's not true that the marriage has to die if `love dies,' " she said.

If both partners work on retraining the way they relate to each other, they can rebuild their marriage and revive their love, because love is based on how people treat each other, she said.

Mrs. Waite said data clearly show that married men enjoy better health than unmarried men, physically and emotionally, as well as more satisfying sex, higher incomes and longer lives. The same is true of married women, contrary to public perception that marriage is "good for men, but bad for women," Mrs. Waite added.

Experts said cultural miscues and bad therapy have clouded the benefits of marriage.

Virtually all couples have irreconcilable differences, said John Gottman, who runs a counseling program in Seattle with his wife, Julie. "So if you marry someone else, you won't have the same set of problems. You'll have a different set of problems."

To make marriage work, said Dr. Frank Pittman, a longtime counselor, "we need to get into it all the way. …