Marriage can be rough, but it seems to be better than the alternative. A new study finds that married people aren’t happier than when they were single, but over time, and all things considered, married people are happier than those who are not married.

"Our study suggests that people on average are happier than they would have been if they didn't get married," said Michigan State University researcher Stevie C.Y. Yap.

Marriage does not caused satisfaction levels to spike, Yap says, but a union tends to keeps happiness at a stable level. Meanwhile, similar-aged study subjects who did not get married showed a gradual decline in happiness as the years passed.

The study,  involving data on thousands of participants in a long-running, national British survey, was announced today and is published online in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Other research has found the following situations contribute to happiness: being old, male and Republican, being religious, and having kids.

Marriage is of course not all bliss. In fact, another study found that if your spouse bothers you now, look out: it will likely get worse over time. Further research would be needed to determine the extent of happiness within a bad marriage.