by Craig Erwin, Ph.D. 2-21-20
There is nothing more rewarding than a healthy marriage. Although sustaining a marriage takes work, it is often well worth the effort due to the numerous advantages that can stem from marriage, including the financial benefits of marriage. Marriage in centuries past was often viewed as a path to financial security, but today many of us don’t realize the financial benefits of marriage, especially in our later years. Marriage can provide a very effective way to accumulate enough wealth to retire comfortably.
In 2007 Joyce A. Joyce published a book titled Women, Marriage and Wealth. The book was the culmination of her doctoral dissertation research, which centered on the ways in which marital status affects women’s wealth. Joyce identified valuable financial benefits of marriage; married women tend to have greater financial security and wealth than unmarried women because they tend to have more assets and sources of income and because they are able to use their spouse’s income, pensions, and Social Security income, in addition to their own income. Joyce also found that financial insecurity is especially common for older women; when women hit the age of 65 their financial situation often becomes precarious, whether they are married or not. The end of a woman’s marriage, whether due to death or divorce, is likely to result in increased financial hardship both in the short and long term. But, getting old is especially fraught with risk for unmarried women; elderly unmarried women are more likely than elderly married women to live in poverty. This is true, in part, because elderly married women are likely to derive income from more sources, such as wages, salary, assets, private pensions, and government pensions.
Although it is unlikely that many people marry, intending to divorce later, many do give up on their marriages far too quickly, opting for divorce when their marriages might be saved with professional help, persistence, and effort. Although divorce is sometimes unavoidable, such as when there is abuse or violence, if couples better understood the increased financial risks that divorce often brings, they might be less quick to throw in the towel and more willing to work to preserve their marriages. Unfortunately, divorce often appears to be the easy way out, the option that requires the least effort and sacrifice. But the time and effort needed to preserve a marriage might be well worth it, in many cases, especially if the financial benefits of marriage are considered. And there are often other good reasons for preserving a marriage, such as the toll divorce takes on children and the difficulties of being without a partner in old age.
Joyce’s research confirms that getting old can be risky for women, especially unmarried women. As a result, although it is quite possible to live a fulfilling, happy life without marrying, the financial benefits of marriage must be considered. In addition to helping us live a longer, healthier life, a healthy marriage can also boost our financial well-being, especially in our later years.
So, don’t take marriage lightly. Rather than only letting your impulses or infatuation drive your choice of a mate, be more careful, deliberate, and rational. Use your head. Marry someone you can work with, who will pull their weight; someone with whom you can live forever. Do your best to build a strong relationship and then nurture it to keep it healthy. And be sure not to give up on your marriage too easily when things get rocky; you must consider the consequences far into the future.
Life is often more enjoyable and manageable when you have someone to share it with, so it is worth the time and effort to do what it takes to keep your marriage strong and healthy. Although it can be wonderful to share your life with someone at any age, when you are much older, it will be even more important to be with someone who will help shoulder the load and be there when you need them.
Never sell short the financial benefits that marriage can provide. Although marriage is not for everyone, there are great reasons to marry and stay married forever, regardless of your religious beliefs or whether you want children.
And when you can no longer work (or can’t bear to work any longer), it will seem like it was an awfully good idea to get married and stay married, if it enabled you to accumulate enough wealth to retire comfortably.
Since marriage and children often coincide, you may also want to read the following:The Risky Business Of Having Children: Children Change Everything Retirement Planning For Parents (Because Children Are No Longer Cheaper By The Dozen