Why marriage is such a big deal

“To get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.” – Mark Twain

One of Cause For Justice’s core values is “Family”. But why is it that we declare, “A stable family unit is the cornerstone of healthy, well-functioning (flourishing) communities and of society at large”?

In the Time Magazine of 13 June 2016 (Europe, Middle East and Africa Edition), writer Belinda Luscombe writes that “few things are as good for life, limb and liquidity as staying married”. But what are the true benefits of marriage to the individual and therefore to society?


What are the benefits of marriage?

Studies show that married people have better health, wealth and even better sex lives than singles. Married people will also probably die happier, notes Luscombe.

Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontologist, did an intensive study on 700 elderly people for his book “30 Lessons for Loving.” 100 % of them said that the long marriage was the best thing in their lives.

Luscombe states that, “Most scholars agree that the beneficial health effects are robust: happily married people are less likely to have strokes, heart disease or depression, and they respond better to stress and heal more quickly.” It is argued that the promise of permanency is what makes marriage more of a beneficial relationship than simply living together.

“The surprising thing is that the longer people are together, the more the sense of kindness returns,” says John Gottman, one of UK’s leading marriage researchers and educators.

Studies also show that children, whose parents are married, perform better than those whose parents are divorced, except for marriages that are subjected to abuse or high conflict rates.

Married couples display safer behaviour as there is less risk-taking and substance abuse when couples marry. They are also more socially connected. If you are married, ideally that is your closest relationship, which means that there is a partner and close source of support readily available.

Married couples report greater sexual satisfaction. The highest levels of sexual satisfaction were reported by individuals who were in married, monogamous relationships, while those who were single or cohabiting reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction.


The Constitutional Court on the importance of marriage for human rights


Dawood and Another v Minister of Home Affairs and Others [2000]

In this matter the court held that although the right to family life is not expressly protected in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it is constitutionally protected [28]. Human dignity is a foundational value value ”which informs the interpretation of many, perhaps all other rights” [35] and therefore one can read the right to family life into the right to human dignity entrenched in section 10 of the Bill of Rights. [36]

The right to family life and the importance thereof for society is recognised in several international treaties [31] and receives protection in numerous ways. The international instruments state that the “family is the “natural” and “fundamental” unit of our society.” [29]

Writing a unanimous judgment of the court, Judge O’Regan stated that “marriage and the family are social institutions of vital importance.” [30] It provides “for the security, support and companionship of members of our society and bears an important role in the rearing of children. The celebration of a marriage gives rise to moral and legal obligations, particularly the reciprocal duty of support placed upon spouses and their joint responsibility for supporting and raising children born of the marriage.” [31]


DE vs RH [2015]:

Marriage has a principal and special place, and constitutes one of the important bases for family life in our society. [40] “It must however be remembered that marriage remains the cornerstone and the basic structure of our society.” [36] “Subject to some cultural variations, love, trust and fidelity are the bedrock on which a marriage relationship is built.” [44]



Science/research evidence shows that marriage has certain clear benefits for the individuals involved (spouses and children), which circles to the community and society.

Being married and being part of a family is the cornerstone of healthy, well-functioning (flourishing) communities and of society at large. Or that’s how we see it, at least.


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