Social Studies: Americans Love Marriage. But Why?

Being wed doesn't necessarily make you happier or healthier

Polly Becker for TIME

Illustration by Polly Becker

Just in time for our annual ritualistic exchange of chocolates for sex on Feb. 14, the New York Times brings this lonely news: 51% OF WOMEN ARE NOW LIVING WITHOUT SPOUSE. The story has been thoroughly blogged, and readers have been dutifully reminded of all the usual statistics suggesting that marriage is threatened in the U.S., an abiding worry of some social commentators at least since the '70s.

But many of those statistics are commonly misread. If you look at the raw data, it's clear that while Americans aren't marrying at the Ozzie and Harriet rates of the 1950s, marriage faces...

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