MENTAL HEALTH

Healthy marriages good for Utah taxpayers, says governor’s adviser

May 21, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2024, 3:33 pm

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, sit together du...

FILE - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, sit together during a reception to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary, July 10, 2021, in Plains, Ga. (John Bazemore, Associated Press)

(John Bazemore, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY —  The Utah state government wants marriages to flourish in the state because healthy, strong relationships and happy families lessen the tax load on residents.

And that’s not all. Kids and communities are much more likely to flourish when our marriages are strong. That’s according to research by University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox, our

“Nothing matters more than a good marriage for happiness today,” he told Deseret News. “Not money, education, job satisfaction, sexual frequency or even religious attendance.”

Yet over the past few years, the percentage of people getting married in the United States has been dropping. The last time the marriage rate increased compared to the prior year was 2016.

The number isn’t insignificant, between 2018 and 2019 the number of marriages dropped by about 5.5 percent, according to research by World Population Review.

The marriage rate over the last 50 years dropped by nearly 60% as reported by Axios.

Utah pushing for stable marriages, has resources to help

Aimee Winder Newton, senior adviser to Utah Governor Spencer Cox and director of the Office of Families, says recent marriage statistics can be measured in dollars and cents. 

 

Newton cited data that show marriage can improve mental health and tame loneliness. Both these emotions have an impact — measured in dollars — on communities and society at large.

“As (a) government, we should care deeply about stability, happiness, better mental health and fewer tax dollars needed to fix problems that may be avoided because of intact families and happy marriages,” she said.

Newton added marriage is a protective factor against suicide.

In the United States, the rate of suicide among persons who are divorced or separated is usually reported as about 2.4 times greater than the suicide rate for married persons, according to Psychology Today.

Resources to repair and build relationships

The government is invested in healthy families, but “we don’t want people in abusive relationships. We very much are concerned about that,” Newton said.

For that reason, she said the website — healthyrelationshipsutah.org — aims to build better, happier and healthier couples and families.

“They have classes for stepfamilies, singles and parents twice a month. And they host free healthy-relationship webinars with expert relationship therapists and educators.

“They have topics ranging from dating and marriage to divorce and remarriage, communication, improving your sexual relationship, loyalty and commitment.

“So there’s some resources out there that we really want to ensure that people know about because we care about healthy relationships first and foremost,” Newton said.

Related: Utah has eighth highest divorce rate in the nation, study finds

Read more stories about mental health from KSL NewsRadio.


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Healthy marriages good for Utah taxpayers, says governor’s adviser