8 Ways A Good Relationship Improves A Man

Finding the right woman might make you happier, what other benefits can a good relationship provide? Here are some surprising reasons why guys should consider settling down.

By Laura Schaefer

e've all heard the jokes about how wives and girlfriends can curb a man's lifestyle, but deep down, we all know the "take my wife… please!" joke isn't revealing the whole picture. In fact, a good relationship makes life better for a man. The right partnership can smooth out life's rough edges and calm you down while building you up.

"I think both genders have the same lessons to learn," says Jeremy Nicholson, Ph.D., a social
It is up to each individual to rise to that opportunity.
psychologist and dating consultant who blogs for Psychology Today. "Relationships provide challenges and opportunities for growth that can certainly improve any partner. It is up to each individual to rise to that opportunity." With that in mind, here are eight ways a good relationship can improve a man's life:

It helps you live longer
According to Drs. Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, "America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts" and the coauthors of Building a Love that Lasts, if your relationship leads to marriage, you could live a lot longer. "One study concluded that men who are married live an average of 10 years longer than unmarried men," report the authors, "and married women live an average of four years longer than unmarried women."

It makes you socialize more
Men tend to be more solitary than women. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, until you wake up Monday morning and realize you've been in sweats on your couch all weekend long. A good relationship will help you break out of your loner routine, as most girlfriends aren't going to be content to stay in an order pizza every Friday night for the rest of their lives. Instead, she'll drag you to cookouts, softball games, and family birthday parties with her...and you'll enjoy it.

It keeps your odd habits and potential addictions under control
Video games and beer, anyone? According to the Drs. Schmitz, "Numerous studies indicate that married individuals are less likely than unmarried persons to engage in risky behaviors (including the use of drugs or alcohol) because of their feelings of responsibility." In fact, Alexandra Burt, Ph.D., a researcher at Michigan State University, recently conducted a study using male twins as her subjects. She found that those who eventually married displayed lower rates of antisocial behavior, such as committing illegal acts and failing to pay their debts.

But you don't even have to get married to be more accountable — simply being in a committed relationship gives you enough reasons not to get trashed every weekend (or commit a crime, for that matter). After all, how can you deal with the farmer's market week after week with a perma-hangover? It'll start getting old, so you'll cut back and be a better man for it.

Do the same for her, and you'll both be happier.
It helps you get more tasks accomplished every day
Two brains are better than one if you want to get things done, it seems. "With each person playing to their own strengths and covering for their partner's weaknesses," explains Dr. Nicholson, "more can get accomplished — in love, life, family and work." Having someone around to pick up a birthday card for your dad while you grab takeout really does make life so much easier!

It makes you a better person who has a broader identity than before
According to Dr. Jamie Turndorf, the creator of and the author of Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First): A Step-by-Step Guide for Resolving Relationship Conflict, "Love is a 'magic bullet' in that it has the power to rupture the walls and hard edges that we associate with the male gender role. Love literally expands a man's heart, urging him to be more giving, more considerate, more selfless, and more other-focused." In other words, you'll chill out and even grow up a little. Don't fight it.

It's beneficial for your career
"Being in a relationship can certainly make people more effective in their careers," says Dr. Nicholson. Just having a partner around to hear about your day can make a difference. A supportive ear helps you strategize, calm down when things get stressful, and plan your professional future. Dr. Nicholson cautions that both partners have to agree that a man's career is important for this to work, however.

It makes you become a better communicator
Good relationships require good communication, but luckily, you don't have to be a pro right from the start. The longer you're in a committed relationship, the better you'll get at talking about your feelings, expectations and hopes for the future. This kind of deep communicating will help you in all areas of life. Your girlfriend can help by providing you with a new vocabulary for discussing your inner thoughts, and she'll ask questions that will get you thinking in totally different ways. Do the same for her, and you'll both be happier.

It encourages you to try new things
Your partner will almost certainly have different interests and hobbies than you do — and that's a good thing. You don't want to go through life with the exact same tastes and habits as you did in high school, do you? A good relationship will encourage you to expand your horizons and lead to new experiences you wouldn't have had on your own. So let her talk you in to signing up for that wine class or those dancing lessons, because it'll make you a better man.

For the other side of the story, read 8 Ways A Good Relationship Improves A Woman.

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Secret Ingredient and Planet Explorers Chicago.
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