Recently I considered my own situation. [This entry is bumped up from August 2017. Significant stuff has happened since then, and not for the better.]
Am I better off because I’m married?
Geographically - Let’s get what I consider the most minor consideration out of the way first. I am NOT better off geographically. If I wasn’t married, I’d be living in a much better neighborhood, closer to work, family, and friends. I know, I know... move, right? She wouldn’t agree to it. When I married her, I moved from a nicer location to one not as good, and a subsequent move has only slightly improved the situation we were in before. NOT BETTER OFF.
Professionally - I’m doing better professionally than when I married, to be sure, but that’s entirely a function of my accumulated experience and track record. If I hadn’t married, I would be able to pursue more opportunities and more effectively network. There are many times I’ve had to go to work late, leave work early, or count the whole day a loss because of family drama, and the distraction does negatively impact me even while I am working. Yes, she is usually physically present to supervise our children and drive them a few places, so some of you might claim that's how she helps me professionally, but I wouldn’t have children in the first place if I hadn’t married. She doesn’t help with me with my career at all. She doesn’t offer analysis, she doesn’t join me to help me networking, she doesn’t play hostess to have professional contacts over to our home. NOT BETTER OFF.
Financially - See above; I’d be earning more if I hadn’t married. Again, my net worth could be considered higher than when I married, but that’s mostly a function of time that would have passed with or without being married. However, just about half of everything I own is legally my wife’s, and I have children to care for because I married. I’m far less secure than I was before I married. I struggle to avoid debt and to put enough money into retirement investments. I easily spend 25% (probably a lot more, actually) of my gross income on products and services I wouldn’t buy at all if I hadn’t married, and if I would have spent as much on, say, a mortgage, it would have been for a nicer place in a better location. I do not think we are saving enough for the future now, especially given her expenses, whereas when it was just me, I definitely was. NOT BETTER OFF.
Physically - My health is definitely worse off than when I married. To be fair, like above, some of it is from aging. But because of my responsibilities stemming from my marriage, I have far less time and opportunity to exercise, I get far less sleep, I don’t eat as well. She almost never makes meals. So I find myself eating what I can that is fast. NOT BETTER OFF.
Sexually - Ha!!! I was much better off in my wayward youth, if we’re considering the frequency of sex as well as the quality. Ah, but that was fornication, so it was spiritually damaging, wasn’t it? We have a category for that below. NOT BETTER OFF/BEING CELIBATE WOULD BE WORTH IT IF I COULD GET RID OF THE REST OF THE MARRIAGE.
Emotionally - I am emotionally drained. I was a happy bachelor. Really. I was happy. Life was good. I thought I knew how good I had it. I was wrong! It was even better than I thought it was. I imagine this is a little like what someone feels like when they're living in a free country with a good economy and it gets taken over by lousy dictator and the economy goes bad. Now I spend my time dealing with problem after problem that, usually, is pointless or involves something I didn't want to be involved with in the first place, but I have to deal with it anyway. I have someone living with me who regularly speaks to me negatively about my family, my friends, and me. Frustration, anger, and sadness are frequent. NOT BETTER OFF.
Socially - I now have little social life. I’m busy taking care of things at home and my wife won’t facilitate or even go along with me to keep a social life going. Most of her socializing is online. She has started to get out from time to time to have coffee with friend while I’m away working, or get the kids to a friend’s house where the kids have friends, too. For the most part, though, she has never cultivated friendships on a long-term basis. (That's yet another red flag, fellas... if you're going to make the mistake of getting married, one of many things you should do before you marry is meet her long-term friends. If she doesn't have any or they are scandalous skanks, you shouldn't marry her.) I had a pretty good social life before I married. I got to see friends frequently. Now, I don't have many opportunities and my wife has alienated some of my friends. NOT BETTER OFF.
Spiritually – Well, hey, I’m not fornicating, right? No, now I get mercy sex that is a mockery of marital lovemaking. I’m sure being in an awful marriage puts me in a better position spiritually than being a fornicator. Meanwhile, I do far less Bible study and less prayer. I’m actually getting to church far less now than when I was a bachelor. NOT BETTER OFF.
Genealogically - Jury is still out. This assumes someone even cares about passing down their genes, or extending the family line, or whatever. My wife, blaming my son’s behavior on traits he inherited from me, rather than the mental illnesses rife in her and her family or her medication-laden womb or behavior as mother, says she’s going to discourage him from marrying. WOW, SOMETHING ON WHICH WE AGREE! At this rate, I don’t know if he’ll be able to marry anyway. We’re on the path to institutionalization due to his disorders unless something drastically changes. Someone raised every serial killer and mass murderer out there. I pray nothing like that is ahead, but anything’s possible at this point. INCONCLUSIVE.
So there you have it. Almost all the indicators currently are decisively that I'm worse off now. To give you a spapshot, just the other day while I was working, I think my wife slept in and then spent the rest of the day sitting out the couch watching TV and doing whatever online while my kids fended for themselves. How does that make me better off???
Winning men tend to attract wives, so husbands, as a group, will appear to be better off by some indicators than "unmarried men". In many cases, though, it is despite being married, not because of it. There are many intentionally unmarried men (the studies usually don't separate those out) who are much better off than the average marriage man. What our laws and culture now call marriage is not beneficial to breadwinning men who have their act together, and divorcing is even worse. Most men should aspire to be independently successful, rather than focusing on entering into a state marriage contract.