Unhappy marriages are harmful to the self-esteem and health of people, according to Penn State researchers. They are also subject to higher levels of psychological distress when compared to those who are happily married. Over a period of 12 years, as many as 1,150 people in unhappy marriages were interviewed.
Alan Booth, a professor of sociology, human development and family studies, and demography said that dissolving a unhappy marriage would lead to a greater improvement of the health and esteem of many people.
To assess the individual's marital happiness, the researchers measured specific aspects of marriage such as agreement, faithfulness, overall happiness, helping around the house, and whether the marriage was getting better or worse. In order to be classified as unhappily married, individuals had to consistently score below the average marital happiness of everyone in the study.
The researchers said that as per the findings of the study, being unhappily married was found to lead to a decline in esteem, health, life satisfaction and happiness. The researchers also found evidence that remaining unhappily married is more detrimental than divorcing, and that individuals who divorce and remain unmarried have greater life satisfaction and higher levels of self-esteem and overall health than unhappily married individuals. The study is published in the September 2005 issue of the journal, Social Forces.