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Section 7:  Non-Traditional Relationships II

Advanced Psychology

“Most scholars agree that marriage benefits individuals in ways that enhance well-being.” (We now have contrary evidence.)

Those in romantic relationships, whether married or unmarried, living together or apart, enjoy higher levels of well-being than those not in relationships.

This study asks the question: Does “this finding” hold true regardless of sexual orientation?

Sample: data derived from GSS, NHSLS, and CHSLS; total of 11,431 sexually active adults residing in the U.S. from 1989 to 2002.

IVs: sex, sexual orientation, relationship status, and a few others

DVs: happiness, self-rated health

Control: age, presence of child in house, education, household income, community size

Analysis: multiple regression

Married heterosexuals were significantly happier than any other relationship status group, followed by cohabiting heterosexuals and partnered homosexuals, who did not differ.

All 3 groups above were significantly happier than other partnered heterosexuals and unpartnered individuals of either orientation, with the latter 3 not significantly different.

Women in same-sex orientation and unattached were significantly less happy than any other group.

Being younger, having more education, having higher income positively related to health for men and women; neither sexual orientation nor partnership status, nor interaction, did.

Men in same-sex relationships reported being in better health than both unpartnered gay men and unmarried noncohabiting partnered hetersexuals.

Consistent with prior studies, persons in romantic relationships (with spouses, cohabiting partners, or regular sexual partners) tend to be happier than those who are single.

Partnered gay men and lesbians report higher levels of health and happiness than gay men and lesbians who are single.

Partnered gays and lesbians are significantly less happy than their married heterosexual counterparts.

Discussion Questions
Do you believe that the researchers began the study with an accurate premise, that there is a benefit from marriage or partnering (i.e. that marriage causes increased life satisfaction)? Why or why not?

Consider the finding about relationship status and happiness; how might you explain this while incorporating findings from Lucas and Clark’s (2006) longitudinal study of life satisfaction and marital status?

What implications do these findings have for gay and lesbian marriage? What about with Lucas and Clark’s study? How might we more rigorously measure marital satisfaction for same-sex couples?

Might these results be integrated into a Christian World View?  If yes, how?