Ben Christenson writes for the Federalist about important links between marriage and success.

In 2006, Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, romanticized her decision to leave her husband in search of self-discovery and happiness. In it, she travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia where she finds gustatory, spiritual, and finally romantic fulfillment with her soulmate, a charming 52-year-old Brazilian divorcé named Jose. But that’s not the end of the story.

After 10 years of marriage to Jose, she left him for a new soulmate and quipped, “I don’t think marriage is supposed to be an endurance contest.” In his new book, Get Married, Brad Wilcox, senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, points out, “It’s probably no accident that Gilbert, who has had four ‘soulmates’ since she left her first husband in 2002, is by last count a single fiftysomething.”

In Wilcox’s view, Gilbert’s story is emblematic of a larger pattern of anti-nuptial and anti-natalist messaging from the cultural elites of academia, journalism, and Hollywood. …

… Of course, determining cause and effect in social science is always tricky. For instance, Wilcox analyzes that the odds of being very happy increase by 545 percent for people in a “very happy” marriage, while people “very satisfied” with work only saw a 145 percent increase. Thus, he argues, a good marriage is more important than a good job, the exact opposite of how young people prioritize their lives. Yet some pushed back that Wilcox’s claim merely proves happiness is correlated with happiness, not anything special about marriage.

You can imagine an entrenched critic making this sort of case with all of Wilcox’s statistics: “Correlation, not causation!” But Wilcox finds that stably married men in their fifties have 10 times the median assets of their unmarried peers. Is that because marriage promotes responsible fiscal decisions and professional diligence, or do already wealthy couples merely pool their assets?