Marriage, civil or domestic partnerships are legally or formally recognised unions of two people as partners in a personal relationship (1,2). People who are married or in a civil partnership have more rights and responsibilities than couples who are living together (1,2). Since 2013, people from same-sex couples have been legally allowed to get married (3).
Risk and/or Protective Factor
Being in a partnership, legally recognised or not, can have an impact on mental health. Research has shown that marriage is associated with higher satisfaction and a decreased risk for depression in comparison to unmarried people (4). Being in a civil or domestic partnership as a same-sex couple has been associated with decreased depressive symptoms and increased well-being in comparison to non-recognised relationships (5).
Changes to partnership status, including separation, divorce, or becoming widowed, have been linked to mental health difficulties, such as substance abuse and depression (6).
1. Britannica. marriage | Definition, Customs, Laws, & Facts | Britannica [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/marriage
2. Citizen’s Advice. Registering a civil partnership - Citizens Advice [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/living-together-marriage-and-civil-partnership/registering-a-civil-partnership/
3. Government Equalities Office. Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act: A factsheet [Internet]. 2014. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/306000/140423_M_SSC_Act_factsheet__web_version_.pdf
4. Holt-Lunstad J, Birmingham W, Jones BQ. Is There Something Unique about Marriage? The Relative Impact of Marital Status, Relationship Quality, and Network Social Support on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Mental Health. Ann Behav Med [Internet]. 2008 Apr 18 [cited 2021 Jan 21];35(2):239–44. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/abm/article/35/2/239-244/4569261
5. Riggle EDB, Rostosky SS, Horne SG. Psychological Distress, Well-Being, and Legal Recognition in Same-Sex Couple Relationships. J Fam Psychol [Internet]. 2010 Feb [cited 2021 Feb 8];24(1):82–6. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20175612/
6. Department of Health. No health without mental health: A cross-Government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages. Analysis of the Impact on Equality (AIE) Annex B - Evidence Base [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2021 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-mental-health-strategy-for-england