Friday, January 20, 2012

Apparently, Marriage No Longer Matters

Hello folks. I’m off to a very busy beginning of 2012 and have not had time to write a new posting for 2012. However, I’m not oblivious to news of the day/week, and as many of you know who are interested in relationship issues, a new study came out that got a massive amount of press with one of these types of headlines:

“Marriage is Overrated”
“Marriage, Cohabitation Provide Similar Health Benefits”
“Few Well-being Advantages to Marriage”
“Getting Married May Not be Better than Living Together”

You get the idea. The study getting all this attention was published by the Journal of Marriage and Family in the upcoming, Feb edition. The authors are solid researchers: Kelly Musick at Cornell and Larry Bumpass at the University of Wisconsin. I cannot give people access to the actual journal article but I can steer you to the website for the journal and abstract of this paper (here). [If you do not have library access to journals, there are often earlier versions of such papers online, when the authors are sociologists (more common practice among them than psychologists like me). There is an earlier version of this paper as a working paper online. It may have important differences from the published version. It’s here.]

I have not had a chance to read this paper yet so I cannot tell you what I think about the methods, sample, and conclusions. But since many who read this blog will know I do have some biases in beliefs about benefits of marriage, I will, of course, have some opinion. Therefore, for now, before I can get to reviewing the paper enough to tell you what I think, go ahead and explore the news articles and abstract for the paper (or the whole article if you have access to journal articles) and we’ll all catch up in thinking more about it. It’s clearly an article that caught a major media buzz. For the moment, I will note that people do not always make the best relationship decisions when seriously buzzed, so think carefully about it! People can disagree about lots of things related to families, marriage, and cohabitation, but no one is very likely to argue that thinking about what you are doing in your own relationships is a smart thing to do.

What do you think of the finding? When do you think this is true and not true (that there are no particularly benefits for individuals regarding marriage or cohabitation)? Is there something left out of the discussions of these findings? (There might not be or there might be. I’ve not looked into it all enough to say what I think yet.)

I hope all of you are off to a great year here in 2012! Back to you soon on this new study.