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What Happens Before, Impacts Marriage, Part 1

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
September 27, 2014 12:00 pm

What Happens Before, Impacts Marriage, Part 1

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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September 27, 2014 12:00 pm

In Part 1 of a two-part series,  NC Family president John Rustin talks with Scott Stanley, Ph.D., Research Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, about a new report he co-authored for the National Marriage Project entitled,  Before I Do: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults.

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This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family and here's John Rushton, president of the North Carolina family policy Council, thank you for joining us this week.

Profamily policy matters. It is our to have Dr. Scott family with us on the program. Dr. Stanley is a research professor and codirector of the Center for marital and family studies at the University of Denver is also senior fellow for the National marriage Project at the University of Virginia and for the Institute for family studies. He is co-author of the book a lasting promise. Dr. Stanley is also co-author of a new report from the National marriage Project entitled before I do. What do premarital experiences have to do with marital quality among today's young adults were to be talking with Dr. Stanley about the key findings of this report what happens before marriage can have a huge impact on what happens within marriage. Dr. Stanley welcome to family policy matters. It's a great pleasure to have you with us. Thank you very much for having me on your show. I appreciate will thank you for your time and for your willingness to share your insights with us as we begin. Dr. Stanley tell us briefly about the origins of this report and some of the questions you and your co-researcher Dr. Glenna Rhodes set out to answer well and 2007 we started a study will recruited nationally, 1300 people who are unmarried and serious relationships and we followed them for five years and over that time, a subsample of 418 of the 1300s got married and we had just gotten around to the point of entering all that data and wanting to begin to look at those marriages and the National marriage Project Brad Wilcox in particular came to us and said, would you be interested in writing a report or for them. That really focused on those people that got married and what factors in their own relationship histories and/or their history together as a couple related to how their marriages turned out so far but I'm sure provided some very interesting insights for you as you look at those relationships now.

The report begins with the story of movie stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who recently married after living together for several years and having a number of children as a result of that relationship.

This Hollywood couple is really a good example of the relationship sequence that so many young people today seem to be following where they become sexually active. Then move in together then have children and then decided that point to get married.

How common is this relationship sequence and closet something that so many young people seem to be embracing these days.

I think it's exceptionally common. It was even a number years ago that we passed the point where for the first birth, the average woman in the US that was under 30 having her first child was not married. So it's a big deal and I think it's hard that change which is dramatic in the course of the last 40 years, and in our society is really part of a whole larger trend where I think we've seen an exceptional kind of dismantling of the idea of steps and stages and sequences in relationships and I believe some of that relates to sort of a culture of the change in terms of people having all sorts of different opinions about how you do things in movie stars you will be more prominent about their own personal lives and people seeing those as examples. I think the other part of the reason why that's changed so much as because of the way divorce ramp-up in the late 70s and early 80s I think out of that over the next two decades. People began to really fear marriage and fear failing in marriage. So even though marriage is doing well at one of the most positive things that can happen to somebody in their life and one of the best things possible for children. People began and some nave kind of way associate marriage as the problem as opposed to instability and poor development of relationships as the problem and filling that moving away from marriage. People now kinda moved away from all kinds of structure and sequence about how they do love and commitment and how families develop DC. That is sort of the snowball effect where you have children who grow up in broken homes where there their parents are divorced or separated, and then they are more likely to follow that same trend themselves. I imagine that's a contributing factor about how much of a factor is that in what we seen today with these trends I think it's a huge contributing factor and and now we really have this giant people talk about economic inequality, but social capital inequality as it is really actually be a much bigger thing starts in terms of really good differences in terms of stability that people experience in family and resources people that have experienced more instability in their own family. Growing up are more likely to have that instability as they grow themselves and as they make their own choices about family and children love and sex in their own adulthood.

So I really do believe is a snowball and now you really see where your marriage is in sort of rapid decline for I think virtually every demographic group in America, except for those who graduate from college, which is now the group used to be sort of shying away from marriage and moving to cohabitation. It's now the group that's kind of doing the most traditional model in terms of sequence, maybe not additional in terms of roles, but in terms of sequence of getting someone set in as an individual, marrying and having children after someone establishing a marriage that's pretty much the group now that's really fully embracing that sequencing of going by the wayside for most all of the groups in our society. Interesting Stanley. I love the color of the before I do report, which features a sleeping baby wearing a T-shirt that says what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas I think it's a striking image.

The findings of this report really challenge the popular notion that what one chooses to do in relationships during their younger years does not really have an impact on their future marriage. Some of the key findings in the report regarding previous sexual relationships and the impact of those relationships on the quality of someone's marriage.

Tell me when we talk about a few of those findings, and also I should save it.

Here are sample provided us with a unique opportunity to really have rate data over time on these people before marriage and then to look at what they reported about their marital quality. Once married, but a lot of these findings are actually consistent with other findings in the literature and other kinds of methods. So even though some people, bristle about some of these findings, that these are not new ideas that we have sort of some really good methods for looking at them. One finding is that people tend to report higher quality marriage attended the more satisfied you feel comfortable communicating trust, etc. if they only ever had had sex with the person that they married, as opposed to with a number partners and then beyond that, the more sexual partners somebody has had historically in their life and and we, the typical person reported having five before marriage. In addition to the person that they married. If they had sex with that person that the more sexual partners people had that that the more likely they would report lower marital quality. Similarly, and is a lot of literature on this now ever cohabited with somebody whether not to cohabit with their mate person I married, if it ever cohabited with somebody else. They were also more likely to report somewhat lower marital quality, and then the course if it had a child by a prior partner that a course is a risk factor for how their marriage is going to do once they settle down with somebody some of the factors that impact the quality of marriage based on the individuals relationships that they had before marriage for several before I go to some of the things that we would think of is likely more causal.

It's it relevant to point out that some of what drives this kind of patterns is what we call selection effects and research where you there are people who came from more difficult homes had poor educational background preferred economic strain and any member of other sort of experiences that you can have in life or or even work life doesn't feel he was stronger hand is maybe somebody else gets. And a lot of ways. Some of these factors will be partly driven by that.

But then there's other things that we really do think of as more causally related to how the person plays the hand or doubt if you will. And when people of had a lot more partners who some of the things to be concerned about. One is that in doing that you really learning kinda more in depth, but there's a lot of alternatives to the relationship that you're in, so you may now be committed in marriage to this person or you've made some level of commitment and marriage that when you had all that experience. It leaves you with a greater sense that I could have somebody else I could be with somebody else. There's other fish in the sea and that idea that's always true for everybody when they've made a commitment in marriage that you know on some level you just because you committed to this one doesn't mean that everybody else disappeared, but it's one of the great challenges of really maintaining commitment is handling all the alternatives you didn't choose. After you've chosen the person that you did choose. So one of the things that a number of scholars believe is that when you have a lot more relationship experiences special, more sexual experience cohabiting experience.

You have a greater sense of comparisons to the person that you married and that can be tough on both commitment and Satisfaction. You Also, When You Have A Lot More Experience like That You Have A Lot More Experience Breaking up so You Get More Practice Than When You Get Unhappy Deciding I'm Going to Move on and Looking to Maintain This Relationship so That's in the Mix, and Then Another One Is Just Really Obvious Is When You've Had More of Sexual Partners, and You Cohabited with Other People before Marriage. You're Much More Likely to Have a Child from a Prior Relationship in Your Ringing into the Marriage and That Makes It Harder for People in Terms of Selecting and Finding a Mate in Marriage Is a Good Match for Them and Then It's an Added Thing Once Married in the Study and You Examine a Number of Relationship Risk Factors That Can Serve As What You Can Think of Is Warning Signs for Couples Prior to Marriage.

Talk about If You Would, Dr. Stanley. Some of These Risk Factors That You Looked at in the Report Ready. After the First Will Talk about Is the One That Got Almost No Media Attention with All the Other Findings and in Some Ways It Was One of the Most Potent One and What We Looked at. If People Had Really Thought Clearly a Timer to Work Consistently Even before Marriage That They Were More Committed to the Relationship Than Their Partner. It Was a Particularly Strong Predictor of Lower Marital Quality, Which Means If If Somebody Weren't Listening to the Show Never Been with Somebody for A While and Think about Whether to Marry This Person, but They Really Seriously Thought over Time.

I'm Really More Committed to This Than This Other Person That the Big Warning Flag and I Think Sometimes People Think If I Can Just Get This Person to the Altar. You Are Everything to Be Finding an Essay I Do and the Commitment Will Have like a Big Conversion to a High Level People Should Take That As a Warning Sign Another Warning Sign. It's Really Similar to That of Course in Terms of Difference in Commitment That Your Partner before Marriage Has Ever Had Sex with Somebody Else's Ever Cheated on You and That Should Be Pretty Obvious Why That's a Warning Sign. But Sure Enough We Find That It Is. And Lastly, Commonly A Lot More Young Couples Have Aggression in the Relationships before Marriage Than Most People Realize, and Some of This Is What You Really Think of Is the Most Damaging Controlling Kind A Lot More of That in Terms of What Happens Is People Not Handling Comp Well, Leading to Some Pushing, Shoving, Slapping Things like This and That's a Great Warning Sign Should Be Obvious to People That It Is, but Some People Don't Really Recognize That Is an and If You Combine Some of Those Patterns of Aggression with a Controlling Partner Should Really Think about Getting Help Calling the National Domestic Hotline Talking to Some Counselor They Trust Me Knows a Really Serious Warning Signs of Future Relationship Really Back on and Take A Lot More Seriously, Were Nearly Out Of Time for This Week. Dr. Stanley Working Our Listeners Go to Learn More about the Report in and Get a Copy of.

If They Go to the National Marriage Project.org All One Word National Marriage Project.org or Just Google National Marriage Project and We Did Write It for the Average Person to Just Be Able to Read It with a Big, so Hopefully Will Benefit Some People Start Stanley. It Is Been a Real Pleasure Speaking with You Today. Thank You so Much for Taking Time Out Of Your Schedule to Be with Us on Family Policy Matters. I and for Sharing Your Insights about Relationships and Marriage. We Are Really Appreciative.

Thank You. I Really Think This Family Policy Matters Is Information and Analysis Feature of the North Carolina Family Policy Council Join Us Weekly Discussion on Policy Issues Affecting the Family. If You Have Questions or Comments. Nine 197-0800 or Visit Our Website and See Family.org


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