Research Reveals Americans’ Opinions on Love and Money, Online Dating, Marriage, Divorce, and Modern Families
Seattle, Wash — March 7, 2016 / PR Newswire – The Avvo, Inc. annual study of relationship trends across the United States finds that among married people, one in five say they are thinking about splitting up with their spouse to some extent (7% say they are definitely considering it). More than double the number of married men (24%) than women (11%) say they’re somewhat considering a breakup. However, when asked how satisfied they are being married, 62% said they were very satisfied, 26% said they were pretty satisfied, and 3% said they were not satisfied (9% weren’t happy or unhappy).
“In many cases, considering splitting up is really about simply wondering what other possibilities are out there, even if you are happy where you are,” says Nika Kabiri, Law and Society Analyst at Avvo. “But also, most people have a realistic view of what being happily married means. Most don’t expect marriage to be perfect, so the bar for satisfaction isn’t unreasonably high.”
However, far fewer people are actually divorcing than thinking about it: 4% of Americans are currently going through the process of divorce at any particular moment. “Considering divorce is part of evaluating the health of a marriage,” says Kabiri. “Doing so doesn’t necessarily mean you’re serious about leaving.”
Marriage actually may be linked to increased relationship satisfaction: only 43% of unmarried people in relationships say they’re very satisfied.
Money, gender, and expectations of a modern partnership
Financial issues can sometimes be a factor in determining whether a romantic partnership succeeds. When asked if a lot of money is necessary to make a serious relationship or marriage work, 31% said yes, and 26% said maybe or that they weren’t sure. More men (38%) than women (24%) believe money can make or break a relationship.
“Traditional gender expectations haven’t entirely disappeared,” says Kabiri. “And those expectations are internalized by men as much as – and sometimes more than – by women. Though fewer people these days expect men to spend more on their relationships than women, some men still embrace traditional gender roles and care more about their financial contribution to a relationship than their female partners would.”
Though almost one in three say money matters, only 14% of Americans who have ever been in a relationship or married say they’ve stayed in a relationship longer than they wanted to because it was more affordable than being alone – slightly more women (17%) than men (10%) believe this. Just nine percent of Americans who have ever been in a relationship or married say they’ve stayed committed longer than they wanted to because they had already spent a lot of money to make it work. And only 4% of Americans believe that saving money is the primary reason for getting married. In fact, 78% of all married people say they’d rather be alone and happy than in a relationship where they aren’t happy.
“Money might matter,” says Kabiri, “but only to an extent. Most people won’t put their finances before their happiness when it comes to love.”
The balance of power in the home
As society moves towards gender equality in the workplace, some traditional gender roles within American families remain. More men (68%) than women (27%) say they make more money than their partners. Along with earning more, more men than women report that they make financial decisions on behalf of the couple: 60% of men, compared to 34% of women, say that they are mostly responsible for making important financial decisions in their relationship.
“American society has seen an upsurge of women carrying the financial burden in their marriages,” says Kabiri. “But gender disparity still exists. And men are the ones who prefer this disparity: 35% of married men say they want to make more than their partners; only 14% of married women say the same.”
Outside of fiscal responsibilities, most men and women agree that housework requires attention from both parties. When asked, 40% of married people said they would be unhappy in a marriage where they did more than half of the chores.
“Other research has pointed to inequality in household chores as a trigger for divorce, especially where the woman is working full-time,” says Kabiri. “Some of us can relate to being frustrated in our relationships because we are burdened with most of the chores. If these frustrations aren’t ironed out, there could be serious implications for the relationship.”
Fewer in the Midwest (34%) say they’d be unhappy doing most of the housework, when compared to the South (39%), the Northeast (41%) and the West (42%). Also, younger married people are more likely to be unhappy with housework inequality: of married people, 57% of 18-34 year-olds and 43% of 35-44 year-olds say they’d be unhappy, compared to 28% of those 45-54, 32% of those 55-64, and 30% of those 64+.
“Americans with more traditional attitudes about relationships are naturally going to be less unhappy with traditional gender roles,” says Kabiri. “Younger Americans, and those who live on the coasts, are more likely to embrace less traditional values and therefore have different expectations than other Americans when it comes to gender equality in their relationships.”
Personal finances and the impact on relationships
Americans also believe strongly in financial responsibility and independence, and look for this quality in their romantic partner. In fact, more than half (58%) of those surveyed said they would not marry someone who had a lot of debt. And when it comes to committed partnerships, most people don’t want to be responsible for all of the bills. Similarly, 58% said they would feel uncomfortable in a relationship if they had to foot most of the bills. More women say this than men: 69% of women say they’d be uncomfortable footing most of the bills, compared to 46% of men.
But though many take financial responsibility in their relationships seriously, they stop short when it comes to getting a prenuptial agreement. Only 4% of Americans who have ever been married have gotten a prenuptial agreement. However, 31% of them also say that if they were engaged to be married at this moment, they’d try to get a prenup. Women are more likely to not want a prenup: 53% of all women and 40% of all men (whether they’ve ever been married or not) say they wouldn’t pursue a prenup if they were about to be married.
“Prenups come with baggage,” says Kabiri. “You could ask for a prenup with the intent to protect yourself, but what your partner might hear is that the relationship lacks trust, the foundation of any marriage. Also, many marry younger, when they don’t have a lot of assets. But if they were to look ahead, they could anticipate having more assets to protect, which might be why prenups seem like a better idea many years into a marriage than they do at the start of one.”
About this study
Avvo conducts periodic studies of topics at the intersection of lifestyle and the law to better understand the issues facing individuals engaging with lawyers and the legal system. Given that divorce and family law are two of the largest and most routine needs for legal help in the United States, understanding the relationship dynamics that lead to marriage, divorce and family planning are beneficial to the legal consumers and attorneys whom Avvo serves.
Avvo offers consumers legal help on-demand with fixed-fee, limited scope legal services from a local, experienced attorney of their choice, such as a divorce and separation advice session, legal counsel and review of a prenuptial agreement or parenting plan, or an uncontested divorce filing. Avvo lawyers additionally answer questions about marriage, divorce, and family law in the company’s Q&A forum for free every day, and are featured in the Avvo directory, which includes consumer reviews and detailed profiles for 97% of licensed attorneys in the United States.
A full copy of this study can be found here. For additional resources about marriage, divorce, and family planning from Avvo, or to find a divorce or family lawyer in your area, visit www.avvo.com.
The findings in this study are based on a non-probability online sample of data collected using the Research Now panel. Data was collected in January 2017. A sample of 2,307 U.S. adults age 18 and over were surveyed online. Data was collected and weighted so as to reflect national distributions of gender, age, and region, according to U.S. Census data. The margin of error is ± 2.04.
About Avvo, Inc.
Avvo helps people find and connect with the right lawyer through industry leading content, tools and services. Founded in 2006 in Seattle, Avvo provides transparent information about attorneys, with Avvo-rated profiles for 97% of practicing lawyers in the United States. A free Q&A forum with more than 9 million questions and answers and on-demand legal services that provide professional counsel for a fixed cost, make legal faster and easier. For more information on how Avvo helps people through legal issues from research to resolution, visit www.avvo.com.