Depression and the Psychological Benefits of Entering Marriage

Adrianne Frech, Ohio State University
Kristi Williams, Ohio State University

Past research has consistently documented the positive relationship between a transition to marriage and psychological well-being. In this study, we assess whether the psychological well-being benefits of marriage depend on a respondent’s or their spouse’s depression. We also examine whether the effect of marital quality in moderating the psychological consequences of marriage differs for the depressed and the non-depressed. Results indicate that men and women who are depressed prior to marrying report larger psychological gains from marriage than those who are not depressed. Moreover, those who marry depressed spouses do not benefit psychologically from marriage. These findings bring into question the assumption that marriage is always a good choice for all individuals. What appear to be strong average benefits of marriage are actually highly dependent on a range of individual, interpersonal, and structural characteristics.

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Presented in Session 158: Consequences of Marriage