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God's Way: Report Finds Marriage and Church Help Buffer People From Unhappiness

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As culture continues to pledge that happiness is something one can give to the self, studies seem to point to a different reality: the most content and satisfied people consistently find happiness in faith.

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recent Institute For Family Studies analysis explored which groups are the most unhappy, finding that non-religious Americans and single individuals have suffered the most in this arena.

The assessment relied on data from the General Social Survey, which has, since 1972, asked Americans to rate their level of happiness. The data found in 2021 — after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended life for people across the globe — yielded some negative measures on happiness.

In fact, people were the most unhappy they had ever been.

“From 1972 to 2018, no more than 18% of Americans ages 35 and over had ever claimed to be ‘not too happy,’ and no more than 16% of Americans under 35 had done so. In every year ever measured, people over and under age 35 had similar levels of unhappiness,” author Lyman Stone wrote. “But in 2021, unhappiness rocketed upwards for both groups, to 22% for those 35 and over, and a whopping 30% for those under age 35.”

Unhappiness rose for everyone, but there were a few findings worthy of exploring. Married people saw their unhappiness raise just eight percentage points compared to 18 percentage points for unmarried people.

“Marriage, then, served as a valuable buffer against unhappiness,” Stone explained.

Considering the importance of marriage to God’s design, this finding shouldn’t be too surprising for Christians. Having a husband or wife to journey through the pitfalls and chaos surrounding COVID-19 was undoubtedly a positive buffer.

But that’s not the end of the story, as Stone also found something else: church attendance and religiosity were also a protectant. The group that experienced the lowest percentage rise in unhappiness were people who attended religious services at least twice a month.

Among these individuals, unhappiness only increased by four percentage points, compared to a 15-percentage-point increase among people who attend church less frequently.

Thus, it seems church, too, provides a buffer to help protect happiness. Read Stone’s complete analysis of these happiness metrics here.

As CBN’s Faithwire has reported, faith has immeasurable benefits for human beings’ lives. Study after study continues to prove the importance of faith and church attendance in the life of believers.

Recent research has found people of faith do better in relationships, are happier, and report better mental health. Read more about that here.

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.