What are the social advantages and disadvantages of marriage? Is marriage important for society? Why/Why not? How does society benefit from a majority of adults being married? What would society look like if people stopped getting married?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The individual benefits noted above all accrue to be beneficial to society generally. If people are healthier and more financially and socially stable, they are less likely to be a drain on the resources of society.  Their offspring are more likely to be financially and socially stable, thus providing that future generations will be less of a drain on society.  Much of our spending in the United States today on social safety nets is spent on single-parent households, which often do not have the wherewithal to provide all of their own basic needs.  Single-parent households also result in children being at risk for educational problems, drug and alcohol use, and incarceration, all of which are costly financially and socially.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I do not think that marriage is as important today as it has been regarded in the past. Society has moved past the "traditional" family definition to allow for alternative lifestyles.

Outside of that, there are still certain societies which regard marriage as highly as they have in the past. As mentioned in a prior post, marriage does tend to speak to stability, but with the state of the world today, I (personally) do not think that it really accounts for much.

On a personal level, I love the traditional idea of marriage (two people dedicating themselves to each other and raising a family together). As for benefits? I am not really sure that there are any benefits on a wide scale which could be measured. Granted, being married has its benefits (taxes, family, etc), but I simply do not think that it is regarded in the same way as it has been.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The traditional family is a microcosm of society as there are men, women, and children united in purpose and identity.  For purposes of government, the family unit provides statistics for census takers, who works in the home, who is the higher wage earner, etc.  With the traditional family, too, there are more traditional roles established, a fact that also can contribute to social improvements, studies, and suggested benefits. In short, the organization of the traditional family provides more direction to the role of society.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Research has supported the theory that married individuals generally are physically healthier and mentally happier than those who are single. Obviously, this is a generalization and not without exception, but the trends indicate that companionship is beneficial for a variety of reasons.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Human beings are social creatures and most seek out companionship of all kinds. Because of the intimacy of marriage, marriage as an institution, provides a legal and social covenant between the two people which protects that relationship. That doesn't mean the covenant can't be broken, but there are significant consequencesif it does. Human beings want to trust, and the interdependence of two people in a marriage relies on trust, but marriage defines things a bit more.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Marriage confers many legal benefits since it is, in our society, primarily a legal contract between two people. It confers, for instance, many financial benefits, which is one reason that Mel Gibson's former wife is now an even richer woman than she was before.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the biggest advantage of marriage is that it expands your family and social circle.  You now can have other couples as friends, and you have instant family members.  Of course, you also have a companion.  Hopefully, if you have chosen carefully, this helps add a buffer to your life.

Posted on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In our own society, it means a lot because marriage is still the default mode.  People are expected to get married and stay married (no matter if it doesn't always happen).  Therefore, when people are married, they get all the benefits that Post 2 identifies.

But that is not to say that marriage per se is important.  It is just that our society thinks it is.  Because we think it is important it is important in our society.  It could be different in other societies (like in Scandinavian countries where cohabitation is seen as an acceptable long-term alternative to marriage).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a completely unresearched comment, but I personally believe marriage within a society shows stability.  When humans can make such a large personal commitment to just one person, it shows they are capable of sticking with something, even when it is difficult.  Barring other factors (such as arranged marriages, illegality of divorce, abuse within marriage, etc.) I think a high marriage rate has the potential to reflect positively on a population of people.  Think about it.  How respected are elderly people who have been married to the same person for decades?

It has also been shown that there is more stability for children in a home where parents remain married.  Children who come from married homes tend to have more personal discipline, tend to achieve more academically and in their careers, and also tend to seek monogamous relationships.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial