It is not the lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
Some facts about marriage
The percent of married people who say they are "very happy" has
gone down during the last 20 years, especially among women. Maybe
we are expecting more of marriage. In fact, when asked what their
chance of divorce is, over 75% of couples refused to admit there was
even a remote possibility. Happily married couples have rosy illusions
about their marriage and they idealize their spouse. The more
illusions, the happier the couple (Azar, 1995). Many of these once
happy marriages fall apart. We certainly need earlier and more
realistic efforts to prevent divorce.
While most people marry sometime in their lives, they are waiting
longer to do it. In the early part of this century, many people left
school after the 8th grade and got married by the time they were 14
to 16 years old. Another hundred years before that, about the time
this country was founded, the age of consent was 9 or 10 in some
places. However, by 1993, the median age of the first marriage was
24.5 for women and 26.5 for men. Between 1970 and 1985, there was
a remarkable increase in the number of young people who remained
single until 25 or 30. In 1985, 57% of women ages 20-24 were single,
26% of 25-29-year-olds were single. For men, the percentages were
75% and 38%. The overall percentage of single people is increasing;
for every 1000 married people, there are about 100 single males and
150 single females. Remember that about 25% of all children live with
a single parent, partly because the threat of divorce is highest in the
first 10 years of marriage.
Sociologists Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) studied 6000
American couples. About 60% of the wives had jobs but only 30% of
husbands thought both spouses should work. In fact, only 39% of
wives thought so; 49% of the wives (in the early 1980's) thought their
husbands should take care of them economically. Few young women
today expect to be taken care of. Husbands sometimes hate
housework but women do not ordinarily consider it demeaning;
therefore, working wives still do much more than their share of the
housework (see discussion of gender roles in chapter 9). Some couples
have signed "prenuptial agreements" but Blumstein and Schwartz
think this suggests a lack of trust which is harmful to the marriage.
Sex is, of course, important throughout marriage; the majority
have sex at least once a week, even after 10 years (see later section).
Within making love, women enjoyed intercourse the most, but men