Modern Marriages Have Higher Expectations But Less Face Time, New Study Says, Plus 7 Marriage Facts That Are Now Outdated

Marriage is changing. If you look at the marriage your parents have and the one your grandparents have, then compare it to the one you are likely to have (if you go down that road), you can see that there’s a major shift in how people view their marriage as a part of their life. Modern marriages have higher expectations, but less face time, and because of that, marriages are more complex than ever, according to a new study.

Research has found that when it comes to marriage, people want it all. They expect not just a lover, but a best friend and confidant. As results of 93 studies from 1980 to 2005 showed, modern American marriages are very much dependent on psychological happiness that is provided by each partner. Because of this, for the first time in history, Americans are understanding their marriages in ways they just never did before.

But while that’s great in many ways, couples are also seeing each other less and spending far fewer hours a week together than they did in the 1970s. In 1975, couples who didn’t have kids spent roughly 35 hours a week together, compared to the 26 hours a week they spent together in 2003. This is, of course, related to the fact that people work more and have other things going on in their life, but ultimately, marriage is just complicated. It’s also likely to become even more complicated as we evolve.

Because marriage is nowhere where it used to be, here are seven outdated facts about it.

1. Marriage Is About Basic Needs

The study found that there were three “major eras of marriage” in US history, the first one being in regards to marrying for basic needs. From the time the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock up until about 1850, marriages was strictly about finding someone to basically keep you alive, like being with someone who could harvest a field and keep you warm in the negative-degree New England winter.

2. Marriage Is Strictly About Love And Passion

Well, that wouldn’t be nice, but it’s not exactly true. According to the study, from 1850 to 1965, the cultural shifts from basic needs to a more modernized society allowed for marriage to be more about love than necessity. People married someone because they wanted to, not because they had the best corn crop in town.

3. Marriage Is Simple

Yes, it definitely was back in the day, at least from a psychological standpoint, especially before love played a role in it, but now it’s about so much more. According to lead author of the study, Eli Finkel, marriage has reached its “self-expression era,” meaning that people marry now “to fulfill needs like self-esteem, self-expression and personal growth.” You’re not just marrying because someone made you swoon, but because you want and need them to make you better in some ways. People want marriage to help them reach their “ideal self.”

4. Marriage Is Steeped In Gender Specific Responsibilities

It kills me that my Grammy stayed home to raise three kids, all day every day, waiting on them and my Grampy hand and foot, while he went out and had a career, but that’s just how things were then. However, within the last 50 years that has changed. By the 1960s, women were getting out into the workforce and suddenly marriage and parenthood was about two equal parts making a whole.

5. Marriage Requires A Lot Of Alone Time As A Couple

Not only did the study find that couples without children saw a drop in time they had together, but couples with kids also see less of each other. In 1975, couples with kids were able to enjoy 13 hours a week of one-on-one time, but by 2003 it was only nines hours. The reason for this, the researchers are thinking, is because of “time-intensive parenting,” as in that thing where parents devote almost every single extra moment they have to their “perfect” kids, molding them into the geniuses they hope they will be so they can someday say, “My kid got accepted to Harvard.”

And yet, despite this difference, marriages are still working out.

6. Marriage Is Only For Straight People

I feel like I need to invoke my inner Cher Horowitz here and exclaim, “As if!” According to Stephanie Coontz, the author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, the changes in straight marriage have helped secure the future for same-sex marriage. Men and women see marriage as an institution in which equality and division of work and responsibilities are more evenly dispersed. Because of this it has helped make lawmakers and doubters see that marriage is about a partnership and should be right for everyone.

7. Marriage Is A Necessity

Sure, it was, once upon a time. But these days marriage is choice and a right, and a lot of people are realizing that they don’t need to be married to succeed in life. You don’t even need to be married to have a kid. Imagine that, Jeb Bush.

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