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Tags: What is Real Wellbeing? AUWI20 Wellbeing Index

Key points

  • Being involved in an intimate relationship is one of the most vital components of wellbeing.
  • Research shows marriage actually becomes an increasing source of comfort over time.
  • Having children tends to improve men’s wellbeing levels.

Strong personal relationships will boost your overall wellbeing. Whether it’s your partner or your kids, intimate bonds are proven to have a positive impact on your life. 

Why relationships matter

Real Wellbeing requires a slightly different combination for each person but, as the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has discovered, the “golden triangle of happiness” is consistently found in our relationships, sense of purpose and finances

Satisfaction across these domains significantly boosts our personal wellbeing—and the quality of our intimate relationships plays a crucial role.

Two women looking after their baby

Mates and intimates

Nobody is an island. The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has found that being involved in an intimate relationship is one of the most vital components of wellbeing.

That doesn’t mean singletons are doomed to lives of misery—an intimate relationship can be romantic or platonic—but everyone needs someone (or multiple people) with whom they can share their problems, hopes and fears.

Having that support and knowing that you’re loved and valued can help you to navigate the inevitable challenges of life.

Power couple

“Marriage is a wonderful institution,” comedian Groucho Marx famously said. “But who wants to live in an institution?”

Well, you might, judging by the data. The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has consistently shown that people who are married display the highest levels of wellbeing, followed by those in de facto relationships.

People who are separated, divorced or who’ve never married tend to sit below the average range of wellbeing.

Intriguingly, however, this varies with age—older widows and younger singles both report better wellbeing results than their middle-aged counterparts.

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Better with age

Any marriage will offer a bumpy ride, with plenty of ups and downs. But wellbeing still tends to remain at the top of, or above, the average range over the course of a marriage.

In fact, rather than fading after the honeymoon period, marriage actually becomes an increasing source of comfort over time, with Australian Unity Wellbeing Index data finding that wellbeing levels hit their highest point after 30 years in the relationship.

The dad factor

It seems men like becoming dads. Having children tends to improve men’s wellbeing levels, with fathers recording higher than average Personal Wellbeing Index scores than men without kids. That difference is particularly visible among men in the 36–45 age bracket.

But why is this the case?

Drilling down into the results, fathers have greater satisfaction with their relationships than their childless counterparts, so it seems that having children may improve men’s opportunities to forge these vital connections.

Women and kids

Women’s wellbeing is less closely tied to motherhood, with women without children found to have similar wellbeing levels to mums.

While family provides crucial relationships and community connections for both men and women, women seem to be more adept at maintaining social connections beyond the family unit.

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