Couples (and experts, and humorists) dispute polls -1/23/07
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Tue Jan 23 20:15:03 EST 2007
- MARRIAGE WORKS EVEN IF IT'S OUT OF STYLE
- COUPLES HERE DISPUTE MARRIAGE POLL'S UNHAPPY RESULTS
I love it. The recent marriage surveys and polls, even when negative,
result in a great flurry of "marriage" print and broadcast coverage across
the country. Getting people to talk about marriage, defend it, take sides,
joke about it, publish cartoons, and op eds.....that's a good thing and
gives us opportunities to offer solutions for how to "get smarter" about
marriage. Write letters to the editor. Call your local stations. Offer
your expertise. Ride the wave! - diane
- MARRIAGE WORKS EVEN IF IT'S OUT OF STYLE
The Daily News (Los Angeles)
BY TOM PURCELL, Guest Columnist
ALL right, ladies, the gig is up. It's time for all of us to get married,
I refer to The New York Times' recent report. After sorting through U.S.
census data, The Times determined that for the first time in American
history the majority of women, 51 percent, are living without a husband.
The story tore through the media like a lightning bolt. The storyline was
clear: Women are finally free and independent now, and the last thing they
need is some sloppy spouse who leaves his socks lying all over the house.
Well, nuts to that. Look, ladies, deciding not to marry for your own
well-being is one thing, but it is we you're not marrying in the process.
Your decision is killing single men - literally.
Single men partake in more risky behavior than married men. We eat badly,
smoke more, and avoid doctors' offices. We die younger. And we're far more
likely to wake up in a pile of crumpled newspapers still clutching the
tequila bottle we began sipping from two days before. The reason why is not
complicated. We are social animals. Men and women are very different
creatures, but we were made for each other. The Catholics call it
complementarity - a man and woman, in union and harmony,
round each other out.
Men need to be rounded out, too. Take dust. Because our brains take in less
sensory detail than a woman's, we don't notice dust the way women do. Thus,
married men tend to live in orderly, dust-free homes, whereas single men,
says P.J. O'Rourke, clean up their place about once every girlfriend.
Though it's not like single women are faring much better. Admit it, ladies:
You need us, too. Sleeping next to a burping, snoring lug of a husband may
not be the stuff dreams are made of, but it sure beats sleeping alone -
especially when you hear a prowler rattling the door knob in the middle of
I know The Times is eager for a more progressive society to take hold - one
in which the stodgy traditional marriage is kicked to the wayside - but the
fact is marriage, imperfect though it is, is good for us.
Married people are happier, says the Pew Research Center. They enjoy life
more - they enjoy sex more, too. Children raised by married couples fare
better. Society fares better. Successful civilizations are built on the
stability that traditional marriage brings.
But despite these simple and obvious truths, we keep trying to reinvent our
nature. We keep trying to prove there are better ways to fulfill our simple
needs - keep trying to leave every option open, so that we can be "free" and
And we end up alone.
I can't imagine what old folks homes will be like 40 years from now. There
will be an unprecedented number of elderly single people living alone. No
children or grandchildren will visit them - no spouse will care for them. I
wonder if The Times will do a front-page piece on that trend, too.
Tom Purcell is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. (Maybe he'd be a
good speaker for community marriage fundraisers and marriage events. -
- COUPLES HERE DISPUTE MARRIAGE POLL'S UNHAPPY RESULTS
January 23, 2007
> University of Chicago sociology professor Linda J. Waite has done academic
> research on marriage, and she questions the statistical accuracy of the
> Woman's Day/AOL.com poll.
> "Of course [the percentage is] high, but depending on how they advertised it,
> they attracted people who are unhappy," she says.
> The Woman's Day/AOL.com poll surveyed more than 3,000 women online between
> Sept. 20 and Oct. 23, 2006. The results were just released this month, and AOL
> spokeswoman Katie Griesbeck concedes it wasn't a scientific poll.
> Unscientific polls aren't representative of the general population, and
> respondents to these types of polls more often are young, computer-literate
> people who have the time to take an online poll, Dr. Waite says.
> "You're going to get people who feel strongly positive and strongly negative,"
> she says. "Using this kind of approach to say how common this is in the
> American population is a waste of everybody's time. It's potentially very
Marriage can seem like a blood sport at times, to be sure.
But a recent Woman's Day/AOL.com poll indicates some women view their
marriage like a date with the lions in the Colosseum.
The Woman's Day/AOL.com poll found 36 percent of women wouldn't marry their
husbands again if they had it to do all over again. Another 20 percent said
they weren't sure whether they would do it again.
"That shocked the hell out of me," says Linda Baker, 45, of West Mifflin,
who has been happily married to her husband, Patrick, for 21 years. "You
have more than 50 percent of the respondents saying, 'I don't know whether
I'd marry him again,' or 'I definitely wouldn't'?
"I can definitely say I'm not one of those women."
That percentage of discontent sounds high, even in the United States, which
has about a 40 percent divorce rate.
Several of the PG's fair readers -- practitioners of wedded bliss themselves
"I thank God every day that I have the man I have," says Mrs. Baker, who got
married just out of college at 24. "I didn't marry my best friend the day we
got married, but it was building a life together that brought us to that
point where we are best friends now."
She praises her husband as an excellent, involved father who coached his
children's soccer and baseball teams.
"Did I know that about him when I married him? No," she says. "It's those
life experiences that have brought out the best side of him."
They were college sweethearts and essentially grew up together. Through good
times and bad, they've worked together to build the life they both want.
"And both of us have the ability to talk with each other when things aren't
going well and to work it out," she says.
University of Chicago sociology professor Linda J. Waite has done academic
research on marriage, and she questions the statistical accuracy of the
Woman's Day/AOL.com poll.
"Of course [the percentage is] high, but depending on how they advertised
it, they attracted people who are unhappy," she says.
The Woman's Day/AOL.com poll surveyed more than 3,000 women online between
Sept. 20 and Oct. 23, 2006. The results were just released this month, and
AOL spokeswoman Katie Griesbeck concedes it wasn't a scientific poll.
Unscientific polls aren't representative of the general population, and
respondents to these types of polls more often are young, computer-literate
people who have the time to take an online poll, Dr. Waite says.
"You're going to get people who feel strongly positive and strongly
negative," she says. "Using this kind of approach to say how common this is
in the American population is a waste of everybody's time. It's potentially
However, in studies with some statistical basis, a really sizable proportion
of married people say they're happy with their marriage, Dr. Waite says.
For example, in the 2006 General Social Survey, 58 percent of married women
described their marriage as "very happy" and about 39 percent termed their
marriage "pretty happy." Close to only 3 percent rated their marriage "not
The 2006 General Social Survey, which unlike the Woman's Day/AOL.com poll
also surveyed men, found 63 percent of married men considered their marriage
"very happy" and about 35 percent termed their marriage "pretty happy."
Close to only 2 percent rated their marriage "not too happy."
These statistics are based on a survey of 1,657 people between February and
July 2006 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey -- which
includes core demographic and attitudinal questions as well as questions on
topics of special interest -- has been administered 26 times since 1972.
"The numbers [related to marital happiness] have been very stable across the
years," says Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey. "Married
people [also] rate their life in general as happier than people who are not
married, either pre-married or post-married."
Wendy Lunko, 28, of Irwin says her husband, MacLean, is her biggest fan.
When she was unhappy in one job, he prodded her to switch to doing something
else he knew she'd enjoy more. Though they've been married only three years,
the longer they're married, the better it is.
"If I've had a rough day at work, it's amazing just how relaxed I can get
just holding his hand or getting a hug from him," she says. "I never knew I
could love somebody this much, and I never knew that I could be loved this
much, but it's amazing."
Many lauded their husband's willingness to help out around the house and
with the children.
"We split those things [we need to do] to keep our household going by the
things we're good at," Mrs. Baker says. "I handle money and taxes and the
business end, and we work different schedules, and he gets home earlier in
the day than I do, so he starts dinner. The kids run the vacuum."
Playing to each other's strengths in their marriage has brought out the best
in both of them, she says.
Lynn Coghill, a licensed clinical social worker and couples counselor who
directs the Master's in Social Work program in the University of
Pittsburgh's School of Social Work, says division of the household workload
routinely is an issue with couples.
Although women and men in their 40s and 50s came of age in an era of
feminism, they still grew up in traditional homes with traditional gender
roles, she says.
Couples of a certain age may intellectually buy into the fact that if both
people are working outside the home, both should share in the household
chores. However, in reality, they both still have very traditional beliefs
based on their own upbringings.
"You'll hear things like the gentleman saying, 'I'll help you by doing the
bathroom,' " Ms. Coghill says. "He says, 'I'm going to do you a favor and do
this for you,' as if it's still in the realm of her job, or 'I'll take care
of the kids for you in the afternoon.' "
Lori Kemp has been married to her husband, Mark, for seven years and says
she would marry him again in a heartbeat.
"He works very hard and he's an awesome dad. He spends a lot of time with
the children playing outside, playing catch, riding bikes," says Mrs. Kemp,
40, of Crescent. "He's my best friend and about as close to unconditional
love as I can get."
>From the very beginning of their 26-year marriage, Michele Stefanides'
husband, Dan, has been an equal contributor in running the household and
raising the children.
Mrs. Stefanides, 51, of Wellsboro, Tioga County, brings a lot of stray
animals home, and it's her job to clean up after them in the yard. Her
husband is so sweet, she says, he'll clean up after the animals even when
she hasn't asked him to and he doesn't complain about it. He just does it.
That's a better Valentine's Day present than flowers or candy could ever be,
"He does things that matter to me, things that he knows make me happy," she
says. "He pays attention to little things."
Gestures like that, especially when the women didn't have to ask, are very
meaningful and make them feel particularly cared for, Ms. Coghill says.
"It doesn't have to be a big, fancy expensive gift [or dinner]," she says.
"It could be picking up dog poop. It's those kind of thoughtful things that
really hit home to women."
Mrs. Stefanides gladly would marry her husband all over again. They enjoy a
lot of the same music and can tease each other when their musical tastes
"I'm a very serious Gordon Lightfoot fan," she says. "He likes Bruce
Springsteen, who I really have no use for."
She's bought him tickets to see Bruce Springsteen on the condition that she
didn't have to go with him.
And now that their children are grown, they've been having a wonderful time
rediscovering each other and spending more time alone together, exploring
wineries and breweries and going to concerts.
"It's almost like we're starting again, but we still want to and that's
what's so cool," she says. "After all this time, we still want to."
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