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Love And Marriage

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AP
Americans believe those entering marriage today do not take the institution as seriously as their parents' generation did, according to a CBS News Poll.

However, married Americans are satisfied with their marriages, and nine out of 10 say they would marry their current spouse if they had to do it all over again.

Americans' views of marriage are realistic and romantic at the same time. They recognize that arguments between spouses may be good for a marriage, while at the same time a majority thinks the romance never leaves a relationship.

A SERIOUS INSTITUTION

Eight in ten Americans feel that people getting married today take the institution of marriage less seriously compared to their parents' generation while only five percent feel they take it more seriously. Back in 1988, 10 percent said those getting married took it more seriously than their parents' generation.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Do Most Getting Married Take It Seriously?

 More seriouslyAbout the sameLess seriously
Compared To
Previous Generation

5%

14%

80%

CBSNEWS Polls

Women are a little tougher on the younger generation than men. 82 percent of women say those marrying today do not take it as seriously as the previous generation, while 77 percent of men agree with this assessment. Younger people are equally as critical of today's marriages as their older counterparts. 79 percent of those under 30 say people getting married today do not take it as seriously while 80 percent of those over 30 feel the same way.

SATISFACTION

Regardless of the perception that marriage isn't taken as seriously today as a generation ago, nearly all married respondents say they are satisfied with their marriages and more than eight in ten are very satisfied with it - virtually unchanged since 1995.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Satisfied With Marriage

 AllMenWomen
Very

81%

83%

79%


 AllMenWomen
Somewhat

14%

15%

18%


 AllMenWomen
Not

1%

1%

1%

CBSNEWS Polls

79 percent of women report being very satisfied with their marriage while slightly more - 83 percent - men feel this way. Also, 84 percent of respondents earning more than $30,000 a year say they are very satisfied with their marriage while only 69 percent of those earning under $30,000 feel they are very satisfied. Although a majority of parents and non-parents both report they are satisfied with their marriages, those without children under 18 living at home are a little happier. 77 percent of those with children say they are very satisfied, whereas 84 percent of those without children feel very satisfied.

With Americans so satisfied in their marriages, it's no surprise that if they had to do it all over again most would marry the same person. An overwhelming 93 percent of those who are married say they would tie the knot with their current spouse again, unchanged since 1995.

COMMUNICATION AND TRUST

88 percent of married Americans rate the communication in their marriage positively, including more than a third who say their communication is excellent. Although that's good news, it's not as good as just a few years ago. In 1997, a higher 48 percent reported the communication in their marriage was excellent.

Younger people rate communication in their marriage somewhat better than do older people. Currently, almost half of those under 30 say the communication with their spouse is excellent while only 37 percent of those 65 and over feel the same way. Identical numbers of marrid men and women - 88 percent - rate their communication as either excellent or good.

Eight in ten married Americans say they trust their spouse all of the time, unchanged from nearly 11 years ago. Slightly more men (86 percent) than women (82 percent) trust their spouse all of the time. Only three percent say they trust their spouse only some of the time or never.

EXCITEMENT IN MARRIAGES

When asked what one thing they could do to add more excitement to their marriage, spending more time together came out on top - 19 percent of married people cited it. Travel together and more romance followed, mentioned by 14 percent and 13 percent respectively. One good sign: 16 percent of married Americans report there's no need for more excitement in their marriage. This is much higher than it was six years ago, when only five percent were content with the excitement in their marriages.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
What Could Add Excitement To Your Marriage?

 2/015/95
Spend more
time together

19%

26%


 2/015/95
Travel

14%

9%


 2/015/95
Romance

13%

6%


 2/015/95
Don't need
excitement

16%

5%

CBSNEWS Polls

Men and women agree that spending more time together would add excitement to their marriage - it was the top response given by both. Time is particularly an issue for those who are married with children; a quarter of parents say more time alone with their spouse would excite their marriage but only 13 percent of those without children agree. Spending more time together is also an issue for younger marrieds; 26 percent of those of under age 45 say more time with their spouse could add excitement to their marriage while only 13 percent of those over 45 feel the same way. 18 percent of those over age 45 feel their marriage doesn't need to be more exciting.

ROMANCE

Although one in five Americans say romance goes out of a marriage in the first five years and 14 percent says it takes 10 years or more, over half of Americans believe romance never goes out of a marriage. Those who are married are even more confident (64 percent) that the romance never dies. The most pessimistic are unmarrieds, 43 percent of whom say the romance never ends. 29 percent of unmarried respondents say the romance disappears from a marriage within the first five years.

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Read more stories about couples and the institution of marriage.
Younger Americans also believe the honeymoon is over rather quickly - a quarter of those under 30 say the romance is gone in the first five yers of a marriage. Men are a little more optimistic than women when it comes to enduring romance in a marriage. In fact, 18 percent of men say the romance goes out of a marriage within the first five years while a quarter of women feel the same way, including 10 percent of women who say the romance is gone in the first year or two.

ARGUMENTS

Americans feel that having arguments from time to time is good for a marriage. 78 percent feel arguments are good while 17 percent feel they are bad. This number has dropped since 1995 when 84 percent of Americans felt arguing from time to time was good for a marriage. Married people agree; eight in ten of those who are currently married think occasional arguments can be a good thing.

Women are more likely than men to agree that arguments from time to time are a good thing in a marriage. 83 percent of women think arguing can be good, as do 73 percent of men. There are also differences when it comes to age. Eight in ten of those under age 30 feel arguments are a good thing for a marriage while two-thirds (66 percent) of those 65 and over feel the same way.


This poll was conducted by telephone February 10-12, 2001, among 1,124 adults nationwide. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample. Sampling error for subgroups may be higher.size>

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

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