Note to Prince Albert’s wife-to-be: Marriage may be good for you

Charlene Wittstock isn’t the first bride in history to have cold feet--if indeed she does. The South African intended of Prince Albert of Monaco is rumored to be having second thoughts about getting hitched this weekend, according to a French newspaper, although the palace insists those reports are false.

One of the sticking points, evidently, may have to do with the prince’s past romantic dalliances and the children who resulted. Not that Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer, wasn’t aware of the progeny--how could she not be--but however you slice it, it is something she’ll have to deal with on some level.

She might be interested in knowing, though, that marriage may have its benefits, including living longer. An editorial published January in the journal Student BMJ reported that married people have longer lives, on average, than singles. Men in committed relationships have enhanced physical health, perhaps because their partners influence their lives in good ways, and women with committed significant others appear to have superior mental health.

But in being an absent father, Prince Albert’s situation mirrors what is going on with U.S. dads. The Pew Research Center released a report in June based on an analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth, showing that the number of fathers who live with their kids is shrinking.


In 1960, 11% of children in the U.S. did not live with their fathers, but in 2010 that number rose to 27%. One in four dads with children 18 and younger don’t live with them --11% live apart from some of their offspring, and 16% live apart from all of them.

The good news is that dads who do live with their kids spend more time with them than before, and are more involved in their lives.

Living with their children (or not) factored into how fathers viewed themselves as parents. Among dads who live with their kids at least part time, almost nine out of 10 rated themselves as doing a very good or good job as fathers. Among dads who didn’t live with their children, 19% thought they were doing a very good job as parents, and 30% thought they were doing a good job.