Stronger Marriage

Time, Sex, and Money: The First Five Years of Marriage

The Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University conducted a national study of the first five years of marriage. This report highlights some of the major findings. A complete report can be ordered from the following web site: http://www.creighton.edu/MarriageandFamily/

One section of the study asked respondents to rate 42 issues that are often problematic during the early years of marriage. The foremost problem reported by these newly married couples was balancing job and family. This is likely a result of a recent surge in dual-career marriages which allows little time for each other and children, if they are present.

The second most serious problem reported was frequency of sexual relations and unsatisfying sexual relations. The third, fourth, and fifth most serious problems were all economic: (3) debt brought into the marriage, (4) the husband?s employment, and (5) financial situation. The sixth problematic area was expectations about household chores. This, too, might be a reflection of both couples going to work with little time to complete household tasks.

When respondents were asked about how they were adjusting to marriage, the scores looked fairly promising, but their actual marital adjustment scores showed a different picture. Only 8.5% of respondents scored in the "highly adjusted" range while 14% scored in the "highly distressed" range. Roughly 20% of both males and females were only "slightly adjusted".

Additional findings were reported after the respondents were subdivided into seven groups according to gender, parental divorce, parental status, cohabitation, age, same-faith or inter-faith marriage, and number of years married.

Gender

Different recreational interests were listed as a "highly problematic" issue by male but not female respondents. Females, on the other hand, listed two issues that males did not list, namely parents/in-laws and time spent together with spouse. It appears that relationship issues were more of a concern for females.

Children

Many of the issues were problematic for both parents and non-parents, but the severity of the problem was always greater for parents than non-parents.

Cohabitation

Responses were typically similar regardless whether couples cohabited or not prior to marriage. However, the intensity level of the problem was generally higher for those who cohabited than for those who did not. Interestingly, the major problem of balancing job and family did not appear as a problem for respondents who had never cohabited with anyone. Rather, the biggest problem for non-cohabitors was the husband's employment. This may be due to the non-cohabitors traditional gender attitudes.

Age

For those 29 and under, debt brought into the marriage and finances were the major issues. For those 30 and over, balancing job and family and frequency of sexual relations were the top issues. Typically, issues were more problematic for those 30 and over than 29 and under.

Religious affiliation

Because the majority of the respondents were Catholic, the statistics deal with mainly that religious affiliation. For respondents in marriages in which only one spouse was Catholic, religious differences were a big issue. These findings are similar to other reports of marriage problems due to religious differences.

Number of years married

When the couples were divided according to years married, different problematic issues were reported. For couples married less than one year, the top two issues were money related: debt brought into marriage and financial situation. The third and fourth most problematic issues were frequency of sexual relations and balancing job and family.

For those married four to five years, the number one issue was balancing parent and couple time followed by balancing job and family. These findings suggest than as the number of years a couple is married increases, the intensity level of the problem also increases.

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