Coco Chanel, Queen Elizabeth the First, Jane Austen, and Susan B. Anthony are all examples of strong, influential women. We read about them in our history books, and still to this day revere them as some of the smartest and most strong-willed women to ever exist.
But what's one thing they have in common that you probably didn't know? None of these women got married.
When we look at how marriage is presented in popular culture right now, women can pretty much conclude that the ultimate desire and fait is to end up at the alter. We are bombarded with movies and shows that perpetuate the idea that weddings are the true way towards happiness. Think: The Princess Bride, 27 Dresses, Only You, Say Yes to The Dress, and The Bachelor.
Even when watching a Rom-Com or TV show in general I think, "Ohhh I hope they get married and live happily ever after." WE just tend to associate "the marriage" with "the happy." But we might be totally wrong about that.
Does Marriage = Happiness?
If you shake the notion up that "women are happier in marriage", and actually dig into the data behind marriage, you'll find that marriage benefits men more than it does women. In a recent study conducted by the National Council on Family Relations, it found that all the benefits of marriage (increases in health, wealth, and happiness) are disproportionally benefitting men over women.
So when women are saying, "I do" they are also saying, "I will let you have increased satisfaction, while I may not experience the same feeling!" Oops.
More Women Want Out
Another study, conducted by Stanford sociologist Michael J. Rosenfeld found that roughly two thirds (69%) of the breakups in heterosexual marriages are initiated by women. In other non-marital unions this is NOT the case, however. Women breakup the couple way less in non-martial unions than marriages. To sum up: Women involved in marriages, but not other relationships (non-marital or otherwise), report lower levels of satisfaction and they end in divorce.
So is marriage really the problem?
Well, according to Stanford sociologist Michael J. Rosenfeld it's a lot more complicated than just that. People's expectations play a HUGE role into relationship satisfaction. Rosenfeld suggest that because society puts a great emphasis on marriage, and praise the benefits of being together forever. So women highly prioritize it as "important" and "beneficial." Whereas men, who have less expectations for marriage, elicit increased satisfaction AFTER the marriage. This kind of "much better than I expected" mentality helps them flourish in the relationship, and maintain overall satisfaction.
So, basically ladies, think back to Susan B. Anthony, Coco Chanel, and other great women that didn't feel the need to get married. Don't feel totally pressured when society is basically telling you to put on a white dress. Whether you are married or not, happiness probably just comes from you telling society to f*ck it, and doing whatever makes you the happiest.