Renowned Relationship Expert and Sexologist Pepper Schwartz Weighs in on State of Affairs for Modern Love and Marriage in America
Seattle, Wash — The Avvo, Inc. annual study of relationship trends across the United States finds that when it comes to failing marriages, more women tend to blame their spouse than do men, and move on without regrets. When asked who was responsible for the end of their marriage, 64% of divorced women blamed their spouse, as compared to just 44% of men saying the same. More men than women say both spouses should share the blame, with 42% of men agreeing, and only 29% of women saying the same. These findings are just a few examples of how gender plays a role in defining views and values attached to marriage and modern relationships.
Divorce, regret and expectations in modern marriage
Attitudes about marriage as an institution may influence feelings about getting a divorce. When asked if they believed in the institution of marriage, 63% of women – versus 53% of men – said yes. The more weight one places on being married, the more intense the outward blame when the marriage doesn’t work out. It’s also likely that gender roles play a part. According to noted sociologist and renowned sexologist Pepper Schwartz, deep-rooted, predisposed beliefs and tendencies about gender roles in domestic partnerships could shape attitudes about responsibility.
“As the saying goes, it takes two to tango and two to ruin a relationship, but women are less likely to take their share of the blame,” Schwartz said. “Gender roles and traditional stereotypes of domestic partnerships absolutely play a role here. It might be that women believe that self-blame is not empowering, and men may feel as though it’s not masculine to blame their wives.”
When it comes to having second thoughts, fewer women than men express regret over being divorced: 73% of women report having no regret over being divorced while 61% of men say the same. Further, 75% of women say that’d rather be alone, successful and happy than be unhappy in a relationship overall, versus 58% of men believing the same.
“Men are more fearful of being on their own once they’ve been domesticated by their marriage, and even though men are more likely to think that marriage is an outdated institution on principle – they’re more likely to want to stay put even if things aren’t so great,” Schwartz said. “Women, on the other hand, prize happiness over marriage, and are less fearful of independence generally. Whatever the underlying reasons, both partners have a role in a relationship not working, women included – even if that means as a partner, making more mistakes that you care to admit, or even choosing the wrong partner.”
Legality of same-sex marriage has triggered a shift in American attitudes
When it comes to supporting same-sex marriage, more Americans are shifting their attitudes since the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling that struck down state bans. In May of 2015, 43% of Americans believed same-sex marriage should be legal, compared to 48% today.
“The fact is that love endures. That feeling, that pursuit of happiness and desire to build a life with another person is something that stays constant even as society learns to welcome new opinions and ways to love,” Schwartz said. “One short year after the landmark decision by the Supreme Court, people are opening up their minds to acceptance where there sometimes was judgement before. Recognizing that love comes in all shapes, colors and sizes is a sign of maturity for American society.”
the legalization of same sex-marriage. In 2015, women surpassed men in their support, with 47% of women supporting same-sex marriage, as compared to just 39% of men. Today, in 2016, nearly the same proportion of men and women are supporters, with 50% of women and about 47% of men in support of same-sex marriage and relationships.
Americans’ support of same-sex marriage differs slightly by political affiliation, with Democrats generally being more supportive. Since the SCOTUS ruling, more Democrats than Republicans have shifted their attitudes. Among Democrats, 58% were in support of same-sex marriage in 2015, versus 68% in 2016. This compares to 22% of Republicans in 2015 supporting same-sex marriage, and 26% of Republicans supporting same-sex marriage in 2016 (not a statistically significant shift).
Support of same-sex marriage also differed across the country, with a sharper rise in support amongst Northeasterners and Midwesterners. In the Northeast, the proportion of same-sex marriage supporters went up from 47% to 56% between 2015 and 2016. Among Midwesterners, the proportion of supporters increased from 40% to 49% between 2015 and 2016. Comparatively, in the South, 41% supported same-sex marriage in 2015 and 42% in 2016. Support of same-sex marriage in the West went up from 46% to 52% over the last year.
Time, money and matchmaking
In today’s modern dating climate, some men and women are willing to do whatever it takes to meet the right person, including professional matchmaking. When asked if they’d be willing to have a professional relationship expert match them up with a romantic partner, one in four (28%) said “why not?”
“The fact that such a large number of men and women are open to being matched by a match-maker illustrates how hard it is to find a mate in today’s society, and the lengths modern daters are willing to go to find that right partner,” Schwartz said. “It’s not that people have lost confidence in their own ability to find someone, but rather that they recognize how valuable their time is, and they’re open to new ways to meet someone in order to find companionship and spend their time in a satisfying relationship.”
Even people in relationships think that being professionally matched sounds like a decent idea – 27% of people who are in a relationship or married say that, if they were single, they could see themselves signing up for a matchmaking service. The length of time that someone has been in a relationship can play a factor in their openness to a matchmaking service: 42% those who’ve been in a committed relationship for one or fewer years say yes to an arrangement, whereas 33% of those in relationships lasting two to seven years, and 23% of those in relationships for eight or more years, say the same.
Those open to professional matchmaking seem to be more open to other less traditional methods of meeting a partner, such as online dating. Half (53%) of those who show interest in a professional matchmaker also believe that online dating is a great way to meet a romantic partner, whereas only 23% of those not open to professional match-making think online dating works.
Once in a relationship, 84% of Americans agree that time, not money, is what makes a relationship successful. Only 13% believe that investing more money makes a relationship great. Men are more likely to believe that the money you put into a relationship determines how well the relationship goes, with 16% of men saying what you spend on a relationship determines success, versus 11% of women. Those in a relationship have different views than those who are single. Eighty-seven percent of those currently in a relationship say investing time into a relationship determines what you get out of it. Seventy-eight percent of those not in a relationship say the same.
“In this time-pressured culture, time is worth its weight in gold. We are so pressed for time – quality time to look for love, enjoy, and nurture it – that we really do understand that its scarcity is hurting us,” Schwartz added. “Of course, you need to recognize that money can make a relationship easier by eliminating external stressors. But people with and without a lot of money understand that just having money will not buy you, nor your relationship, happiness.”
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 is committed to understanding American social and cultural experiences so that we can better understand the people we seek to help,” said Nika Kabiri, director of consumer insights at Avvo. “Millions of consumers seek legal help on Avvo every day and we want to interact with them in meaningful ways. We conduct several consumer studies every year to learn more about what matters to them when it comes to their personal relationships and families.”
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.
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.
These findings are based on a non-probability online sample of data collected using the Research Now panel. Data was collected in March 2016. A sample of 2000 U.S. adults age 18 and over were surveyed online. For this poll, the credibility interval was calculated to be plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. The data were weighted to the U.S. current population data by gender, age, and region based on Census data.
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 8 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.