“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes

Small Wedding

Small Wedding

Science Daily has a report on a study of marriage happiness called “Bigger weddings, fewer partners, less ‘sliding’ linked to better marriages.”

Unfortunately this is another study showing correlations but not proving causations, so it is less useful than it might appear:

Rhoades and co-author Scott M. Stanley came to these insights by analyzing new data from the Relationship Development Study, an ongoing national study based at the University of Denver and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Between 2007 and 2008, more than 1,000 Americans who were unmarried but in a relationship, and between the ages of 18 and 34, were recruited into the study.

Over the course of the next five years and 11 waves of data collection, 418 of those individuals got married. The authors looked closely at those 418 new marriages, examining how the history of the spouses’ relationships and their prior romantic experiences were related to the quality of their marriages.

So far so good. But what they did was select a group of single people, look specifically at the ones who got married, and then question them about the happiness of their marriage, their history and other factors that might be interesting. There are problems with drawing any conclusions: self-reporting of both relationship history and marriage quality, and alternative explanations for some correlations.

Those who have had more romantic experiences — for example, more sexual or cohabiting partners — are less likely to forge a high-quality marriage than those with a less complex romantic history, the researchers found.

Raising children from prior relationships can add stress to a marriage. For women, but not for men, having had a child in a prior relationship was associated, on average, with lower marital quality.

….More relationship experiences prior to marriage also means more experience breaking up, which may make for a more jaundiced view of love and relationships, Rhoades said. It’s also possible that some people have personality characteristics — such as liking to take risks or being harder to get along with — that both increase their odds of having many relationship experiences and decrease their odds of marital success, she added.

From the attachment type perspective, it’s easy to see from the Dating Pool Danger graph that people who have been through several relationships are far more likely to be insecure types: Dismissive-Avoidant, Fearful-Avoidant, or Anxious-Preoccupied. Each of these types would be expected to have a lower-than-typical quality of marriage. So the people who they initially selected were already skewed (since they were single) toward the insecure types, and those with a history of broken relationships were even more likely to be insecure types and thus find marriage rough.

Past studies show that couples often “slide” into living together rather than talking things out and making a decision about it. In this study, participants who lived together before marriage were asked directly if they made a considered decision about premarital cohabitation or slid into it; they indicated their degree of “sliding versus deciding” on a five-point scale. The more strongly respondents categorized the move as a decision rather than a slide, the greater their marital quality later on.

“We believe that one important obstacle to marital happiness is that many people now slide through major relationship transitions — like having sex, moving in together, getting engaged or having a child — that have potentially life-altering consequences,” said Stanley, research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, as well as a senior fellow for both the National Marriage Project and for the Institute for Family Studies.

That seems fairly intuitive — commitments that occur thoughtlessly, almost by default, happen when people are not strongly motivated by anything but convenience and inertia. After marriage, they may just as easily leave when it becomes inconvenient. Living together for years before marriage tends to show someone was not especially motivated to get married!

Having more guests at one’s wedding — the biggest ritual in many relationships — is associated with higher marital quality, even after controlling for income and education, which may be proxies for how much the wedding might have cost, the study found. Among couples who had weddings, the sample was divided into those who had weddings with 50 or fewer attendees, 51 to 149 attendees, or 150 or more attendees. Among each grouping, 31 percent, 37 percent, and 47 percent, respectively, reported high marital quality.

“In what might be called the ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ factor, this study finds that couples who have larger wedding parties are more likely to report high-quality marriages,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at U.Va. “One possibility here is that couples with larger networks of friends and family may have more help, and encouragement, in navigating the challenges of married life. Note, however, this finding is not about spending lots of money on a wedding party. It’s about having a good number of friends and family in your corner.”

This also seems obvious — lots of friends and family at your wedding tends to mean you have lots of social support, and the larger the social network you invited, the more you probably believed in your own wedding as a real commitment!


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

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