Marriage is not worth it for men. It’s not worth the practical and financial sacrifices, the lost romantic and sexual opportunities, and the “lack of freedom.” All in all, marriage is a ball and chain, of little benefit to the average man interested in pursuing his own happiness and well-being.

In light of both the survey data and the continuing decline in the marriage rate for men, it’s fair to say that this viewpoint is becoming more and more entrenched in our society, particularly among younger men.

But despite the increasing prevalence of what we will call the “ball and chain” view of marriage among men, that perception of marriage is simply not supported by the research. Contrary to the notion that marriage is detrimental to men, it turns out that the benefits are substantial by every conceivable measure, including greater financial well-being, higher quality of sexual life, and significantly better physical and mental health outcomes. The main challenge would seem to be breaking through the widely-held negative perception of marriage promoted in our popular culture by conveying the benefits of marriage of which so many men seem unaware.

Return on Investment

There’s no doubt that marriage requires sacrifices and lots of them. Successful marriages require men to work harder, steer clear of attractive alternatives, spend less time with their buddies, and make a good-faith effort, day in and day out, to be emotionally present to their wives. Most men find these sacrifices hard.

But, as we document in a new IFS research brief, it turns out that the return on marital sacrifice for men is substantial.

Download the Men and Marriage research brief here.