This report discusses the findings of a national telephone survey of 1,503 Americans age 18 and older conducted late in 2003 and early in 2004 that asked questions about attitudes toward marriage, aspirations for marriage, and past experiences with marriage. Results from the survey indicate that although only 60% of the respondents were married at the time of the survey, Americans clearly are not rejecting marriage. Most of the older respondents were married or had been married (96% of those age 60 and older), and most of the unmarried younger respondents said they wanted to marry. Only 2% of the respondents had never married and said they did not want to marry. In spite of much talk about a retreat from marriage among African Americans, only 3% of the black respondents had never been married and said they did not want to marry. A very large majority of the respondents to the survey expressed pro-marriage attitudes and a very small minority expressed attitudes that could reasonably be considered anti-marriage. Most of the respondents to the survey said that marriage should be a lifelong commitment (88%) and that fathers are just as important as mothers for the proper development of children (97%). A substantial majority (71%) disagreed with the statement that either spouse should be allowed to terminate a marriage at any time for any reason, thus expressing their disapproval of unilateral no fault divorce. Although the respondents were not asked specifically about healthy marriage initiatives and similar governmental and private efforts to strengthen marriages, 94% agreed that divorce is a serious national problem, and 86% agreed that all couples considering marriage should get premarital counseling. Furthermore, almost half (47%) thought that premarital counseling should be required. Sentiments that some observers consider a threat to marriage were expressed more frequently by younger than by older respondents. Finally, the study investigated the major reasons for divorce of those who had been divorced, and the attitudes of ever-divorced respondents. Top reasons for divorces included lack of commitment by one or both spouses, followed by too much conflict and arguing, and infidelity. 23 figures and 16 references. (Author abstract modified)
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With this ring : a national survey on marriage in America.