marriage research articles

2. The goal of this article is to review recent scholarship on marriage, cohabitation, and divorce among older adults and identify directions for future research. From a life course perspective, it is plausible that key turning points such as an empty nest, retirement, or failing health could prompt couples to reflect on their marriage and decide to get divorced. The link between marriage (vs. cohabitation) and higher levels of relationship satisfaction and trust remains even after controlling for demographic differences between married and cohabiting adults (such as gender, age, race, religious affiliation and educational attainment). The changing marital status composition of older adults foregrounds the salience of the larger marital biography, encompassing not merely current marital status but also transitions and their key features, including timing, duration, and sequencing. In fact, some of the most dramatic shifts in family life are occurring among adults aged 50 years and older (Cooney & Dunne, 2001). Recent decades have witnessed a retreat from marriage, sustained high levels of divorce, and a rapid acceleration in unmarried cohabitation (Cherlin, 2010; Kennedy & Ruggles, 2014). There is limited research on the well-being of older cohabitors. The physical health benefits of cohabitation are largely unexplored. Those who have repartnered are unlikely to be poor at only about 4% (Lin, Brown, & Hammersmith, 2017). People who live apart together (LATs): New family form or just a stage? Future research should pay greater attention not only to the diverse family demographic trends marking older adulthood but also how these patterns align with cross-national economic and social policies, which may provide incentives to form (or dissolve) various types of unions. The past few decades have witnessed rapid change in the family formation and dissolution patterns of older adults. Cohabiters who are not engaged but want to get married someday are more likely to cite their partner not being ready (26%), rather than themselves (14%), as a major reason they’re not engaged or married. More than one-third of unpartnered older adults have a disability versus about one-fifth of cohabitors and remarried individuals. Yet, comparative research on partnerships and unions in later life is slim. Many wives now have sufficient financial autonomy that they can afford to get divorced. About three-in-ten cohabiting adults who are not engaged but say they would like to get married someday cite their partner’s (29%) or their own (27%) lack of financial readiness as a major reason why they’re not engaged or married to their current partner. By contrast, Republicans are about evenly split: 50% favor and 49% oppose this. Note: Statistics are from Table 2 of Brown et al. By remaining unmarried, they are not legally responsible for the partner’s medical expenses nor do the partners have any claims to each other’s assets. An important task for future research is to evaluate whether the outcomes associated with gray divorce are similar to widowhood as well as whether repartnering reduces the negative effects of disruption. Marital dysfunction and divorce can negatively impact families and jeopardize psychological and physical health. This early research articulated numerous economic and social benefits of cohabitation in later life. When an older adult experiences a health decline does the partner step in to help or is it the adult child who serves as the caregiver? By contrast, in 2002, 54% of adults in this age group had ever cohabited and 60% had ever married. Cohabitation enables couples to preserve their financial autonomy, ensuring their wealth transfers to their offspring rather than their partner. The decline was sharper for women, whose levels of widowhood plummeted from 31.6% to 18.9%. Time spent in either the divorced or widowed state is related to worse health outcomes, including chronic conditions and mobility limitations (Hughes & Waite, 2009), although not to cardiovascular disease (Zhang & Hayward, 2006). While marriage is often seen as an essential step in a successful life, the Pew Research Center reports that only about half of Americans over age 18 … The dramatic increase in wives’ labor force participation when these older people were at their prime changed the marital bargain by making wives less dependent on their husbands (Schoen, Astone, Kim, Rothert, & Standish, 2002). That advice was wrong. Together, these factors signal an increase in the number of adults who could cohabit. Repartnership status by dissolution type and gender. In 2015, figures stood at 14.3% for men and 18.1% for women. Older cohabitors and remarried individuals report comparable levels of emotional satisfaction, openness, pleasure, interaction, criticism, and demands, although cohabitors are less likely than remarried individuals to say their relationships are very happy (Brown & Kawamura, 2010). Economic disadvantage combined with potentially fewer sources of social support leave unmarried older adults particularly vulnerable in the event of a health crisis (Zhang, Liu, & Yu, 2016). Today’s baby boomers (born 1946–1964), for example, were the generation th… The gray divorce revolution is unfolding in a larger social context in which the meaning of marriage (and divorce) has shifted dramatically in recent decades (Wu & Schimmele, 2007). Most Americans (69%) say cohabitation is acceptable even if a couple doesn’t plan to get married. Moreover, the negative health effects of divorce are not necessarily immediately apparent and can emerge years later (Hughes & Waite, 2009), reinforcing the stress model perspective that stipulates marital dissolution is a stressful life event that often involves enduring, chronic strains which take a toll on health (Zhang et al., 2016). Meanwhile, being divorced is now more prevalent among both men and women. Certainly, both research and common sense say that having a child with a disability can add stress to a marriage, 2,3 as well as a family. For men, the share is about 13% regardless of dissolution type. happiness and which are illusory. Two-thirds of cohabiters who want to get married someday cite either their own or their partner’s … Remarried individuals have the highest median household income at $101,027, followed by cohabitors with $88,829, and $55,519 among unpartnered persons. With Gratitude from the Inaugural Editor-in-Chief of, Higher Fatigue Prospectively Increases the Risk of Falls in Older Men, Altruistic Attitudes Among Older Adults: Examining Construct Validity and Measurement Invariance of a New Scale, Assessment of Cognitive-motor Performance Costs, Task Prioritization, and Adaptation to Dishwashing under Increased Demand in Older Women with Arthritis, Prevalence of Self-Reported Cognitive Impairment among Arab American Immigrants in the United States, Volume 3, Issue Supplement_1, November 2019 (In Progress), About The Gerontological Society of America, Reczek, Pudrovska, Carr, Thomeer, & Umberson, 2016, Umberson, Williams, Powers, Liu, & Needham, 2006, Schoen, Astone, Kim, Rothert, & Standish, 2002, Umberson, Thomeer, Kroeger, Lodge, & Xu, 2015,, with-a-partner-continues-to-rise-especially-among-those-50-and-older/,, Receive exclusive offers and updates from Oxford Academic, Copyright © 2020 The Gerontological Society of America. Note: See full topline results and methodology. Several demographic trends have contributed to growth in unmarried older adults. Table 2 provides a portrait of the previously married, differentiating among individuals aged 50 years and older who are cohabiting, remarried, or unpartnered using the 2015 American Community Survey. One-third of first later life marital dissolutions now occur through gray divorce rather than widowhood, making it vital that researchers broaden their scope to encompass both dissolution pathways (Brown et al., 2016). In fact, researchers have challenged the conventional finding that marriage is advantageous for well-being, arguing instead that the apparent gains to marriage are actually due to the detrimental influences of disruption on health (Williams & Umberson, 2004). Indeed, the gray divorce rate is 2.5 times higher for those in a remarriage than a first marriage (Brown & Lin, 2012). !Whilethis!mayseem!likethe Among cohabiting adults who were not engaged when they moved in with their partner, 44% say they saw living together as a step toward marriage. Younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to find it acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together. Over 80% of remarrieds are White, compared to just over three-quarters of cohabitors and 70% of unpartnereds. November 24, 2020 Giving God the Credit When You’re Given a Talent The Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF), published by the National Council on Family Relations, has been the leading research journal in the family field for more than 75 years and is consistently the most highly cited journal in Family Science. Marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. Older men receive less support from their adult children if they are divorced from the children’s mother (Lin, 2008). In turn, repartnering following divorce further weakens men’s relationships to their children (Kalmijn, 2013; Noël-Miller, 2013). These findings challenge the marital resources model which stipulates that marriage provides spouses with psychological, economic, and social benefits that should enhance well-being (Zhang et al., 2016) and longevity (Dupre et al., 2009). View Article Google Scholar 21. The levels of repartnering are somewhat higher for gray divorced men at 28% for remarriage and 15% for cohabitation, but most remain single (Brown et al., 2016). Cohabitation operates as an alternative to marriage for older adults and is increasingly replacing remarriage following divorce or widowhood. Same-sex cohabiting older adults are more socioeconomically advantaged than different-sex cohabitors and appear more comparable to different-sex married older adults (Baumle, 2014; Manning & Brown, 2015). First, there has been a slight increase in people who never marry, especially for men (Lin & Brown, 2012). The high employment level of cohabitors does not yield the economic returns that remarried individuals enjoy. Younger adults are particularly likely to see cohabitation as a path to a successful marriage: 63% of adults younger than 30 say couples who live together before marriage have a better chance at a successful marriage, compared with 52% of those ages 30 to 49, 42% of those 50 to 64 and 37% of those 65 and older. Couples can live together in a close, intimate partnership and pool their resources to the extent that it works for them. About two-thirds of married adults and 61% of cohabiting adults cite companionship as a major factor. Childlessness is on the rise for older adults internationally, and the proportions divorced are also expected to increase in the coming years, reflecting family patterns established earlier in the life course and raising new questions about the availability of family support and caregiving in later life (Kinsella & Phillips, 2005). Roughly two-thirds of adults (65%) say they favor allowing unmarried couples to enter into legal agreements that would give them the same rights as married couples when it comes to things like health insurance, inheritance or tax benefits, while 34% oppose this. Greater attention to how marital biographies and current relationship type (including dating or LAT) are linked to well-being in later life is sorely needed. One reason for the rise of cohabitation in later life is because fewer older adults are married, meaning a larger share is eligible to cohabit. Marital benefits are contingent on marital quality with the greatest gains accruing to those with the happiest marriages. Among both married and cohabiting adults, love and companionship top the list of reasons why they decided to get married or to move in with their partner. Marital duration is inversely associated with divorce and remarriages tend to be of shorter duration than first marriages. In 2010, more than one-quarter of individuals who divorced were over age 50, compared to just 1 in 10 in 1990 (Brown & Lin, 2012). Older adults are at the forefront of family change as a declining share experiences lifelong marriage and rates of cohabitation and divorce in later life continue to rise. Multiple transitions, especially the experience of marital disruption, can be detrimental to health and well-being and these negative outcomes often persist over time and even after repartnering occurs (Hughes & Waite, 2009; Zhang et al., 2016). Percentage Distributions of Demographic, Economic, and Health Characteristics of Previously Married Adults Aged 50 and Older, by Union Status, 2015. W hen Americans debate the value of marriage, most attention focuses on the potential harm to children of divorce or illegitimacy, and for good reason. In a series of research studies, Dr. Gottman developed … Among men, 5% were never-married in 1990 versus 9.1% in 2015. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Globally, the proportions of older men and women who are married has grown modestly and the proportions widowed have fallen in recent decades, with both trends mainly reflecting gains in life expectancy (Kinsella & Phillips, 2005). The varied marital biographies of today’s older adults raise a host of questions about the diverse trajectories of the family life course after age 50. This study was presented at a medical conference, so the results should be considered preliminary. Married adults are more likely than those who are living with a partner to say things are going very well in their relationship (58% vs. 41%). As marriage rates have declined, the share of U.S. adults who have ever lived with an unmarried partner has risen. The gray divorce rate has doubled in recent decades as older adults abandon marriage in favor of unmarried partnerships or singlehood. Widowhood was much less common among men at 8% than women at 29% (Kohli, Kunemund, & Ludicke, 2005). And, here again, cross-national information on non-coresidential unions, such as dating and LAT relationships, appears to be lacking. Our goal is to review the recent literature on older adult (which we define as aged 50 years and older) marriage, cohabitation, and divorce. This stability reflects a corresponding decline in widowhood as women’s husbands are living longer these days. Remarriage offsets only some of the health disadvantage linked to marital disruption, whether through divorce or spousal loss. If partners and children are less willing to be caregivers, then the burden increasingly falls on institutions and society to manage the care of frail elders which could have significant public policy implications. Cohabitation is now growing more rapidly among older than younger adults. This share will grow in the coming years as more boomers experience marital dissolution through either gray divorce or widowhood and do not subsequently remarry. 7 Most Americans favor allowing unmarried couples to have the same legal rights as married couples. Dating relationships are concentrated among the most advantaged unmarried older adults, with those who have higher levels of education and are in better health the most likely to be dating (Brown & Shinohara, 2013). Of course, these overall figures belie considerable variation across European nations. Over half of remarried respondents report being employed, and just 37% of unpartnereds are working. Granted, in some cases marriage holds unique advantages, such as when one partner does not have access to health insurance or when marriage would provide a larger Social Security benefit (Chevan, 1996). Still, a narrow majority sees societal benefits in marriage. 7 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2018, Among U.S. cohabiters, 18% have a partner of a different race or ethnicity, Mormons more likely to marry, have more children than other U.S. religious groups, 8 facts about love and marriage in America, Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins, In past elections, U.S. trailed most developed countries in voter turnout, 5 facts about the QAnon conspiracy theories, So far, Trump has granted clemency less frequently than any president in modern history. But empirical research reveals they are not associated with a couple’s risk of gray divorce. Percentage Distribution of Marital Status for Men and Women, 1990 and 2015. Please check for further notifications by email. The rising popularity of older adult cohabitation was first documented more than two decades ago (Chevan, 1996; Hatch, 1995). Their research is an overview of the topic of marriage and happiness. Marital strain exacerbates the decline in self-rated health that typically occurs over time, and this effect is larger at older ages (Umberson, Williams, Powers, Liu, & Needham, 2006). Since 1990, the gray divorce rate has doubled, rising from 4.9 divorced persons per 1,000 married persons to 10 per 1,000 in 2015 (Brown & Lin, 2012; Stepler, 2017a). Remarried couples tend to be less homogenous and this heightens their chances of divorce. Description: The Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF), published by the National Council on Family Relations, is the leading research journal in the family field and has been so for over sixty years.JMF features original research and theory, research interpretation and reviews, and critical discussion concerning all aspects of marriage, other forms of close relationships, and families.

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