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Fear of Divorce Keeps Young Couples from Marrying

Fear of Divorce Keeps Young Couples from MarryingWith the number of married people at an all-time low in the United States, new research has unveiled clues as to why young couples don’t get married. The No. 1 reason?

They fear divorce.

Demographers at Cornell University and the University of Central Oklahoma surveyed couples who live together and found that two-thirds, or about 67 percent, of the respondents admitted to concerns about dealing with the social, legal, emotional and economic consequences of a divorce.

Despite these concerns, middle-class subjects spoke more favorably about getting married and viewed cohabitation as a natural stepping stone to marriage, the researchers said.

In contrast, more lower-income women expressed doubts about the “trap” of marriage, fearing that it would be hard to leave if things go wrong or it would lead to additional domestic responsibilities, but few benefits.

The study also found working-class couples who live together were more apt to view marriage as “just a piece of paper,” saying it would be nearly identical to their existing relationship. They also were twice as likely to admit fears about being stuck in a marriage with no way out once they began to rely on their partner’s income to get by.

The researchers said they hope that their findings could help premarital counselors better tailor their lessons to assuage widespread fears of divorce and to target the specific needs of various socioeconomic classes.

The study, “The Specter of Divorce: Views from Working and Middle-Class Cohabitors,” is published in the journal Family Relations and is co-authored by Sharon Sassler, Ph.D., Cornell professor of policy analysis and management, and Dela Kusi-Appouh, a Cornell doctoral student in the field of developmental sociology.

Source: Cornell University

Married couple photo by shutterstock.

Fear of Divorce Keeps Young Couples from Marrying
APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Fear of Divorce Keeps Young Couples from Marrying. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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