Marriage allows men to develop their masculinity and leads people to trust and respect them, believes Steven Nock, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia who has published his findings in a book, Marriage in Men's Lives.
Previous research has shown that married men live longer than single men but this has been widely attributed to the care of their wives. Professor Nock's study suggeststhat marriage itself enhances men's self-image, driving them to be more successful, more generous and more concerned about the welfare of others.
His findings - based on interviews with 6,000 men who have been questioned yearly since 1979 - show that marriage allows husbands to fulfil traditional roles as fathers, providers, and protectors of their wives and children.
Married men are also seen by society as more mature and productive than those who are single or cohabiting.
"Marriage changes men because it is the vehicle by which adult masculinity is developed and sustained," said ProfessorNock.
The study showed that the more closely a man's marriage conformed to the norm, the greater his accomplishments, and that fatherhood led men to even higher achievements.
The researchers analysed interviews with men before and after they were married to see how their lives changed over the years. Married men saw less of their friends, went to bars less often and dropped club memberships but were more likely to go to church.
In contrast, remarriage had a less positive effect. "Without the formal and informal rules that exist for first marriages, remarriages produce fewer benefits for men," said Professor Nock.Reuse content