OPW -- Aug 11 -- A study published by Australia’s Melbourne Institute of Economic and Social Research analysed the marital instability of 2,482 couples over six years, and the results have determined that despite the famous saying “opposites attract”, they found that couples with similar qualities stand a better chance of having a stable marriage.
The study broke down their research parameters into five main categories (Background, Marriage and Children, Attitudinal, Socio-economic and Lifestyle), each with its own subcategories, with all of the data coming from the HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) survey, which is conducted each year. The 2,482 couples observed were legally married, living together, under age 60 and both spouses were interviewed in the first wave of the survey.
The research aimed to prove that spouses with similar traits, behaviors and opinions were more likely to have a stable marriage as opposed to those with dissimilar traits. e.g. Couples who are similar in “age, preference for future children and smoking practices are associated with marital stability.”
Citing over 30 years of research, the paper concluded that age difference had a significant link to marital instability. The optimal age difference for men is between 1 year younger and 3 years older than their wife. A marriage where the husband is 2 or more years younger than his wife is 53% more likely to end in separation or divorce. The risk of separation is doubled when the husband is 9 or more years older than his wife.
Differences in smoking practices also show significant risk for instability. Also, couples are 90% more likely to separate if they've both been married 2 or more times. Other factors of marriage instability are:
- If the husbands parents had been divorced.
- If the wife has a stronger preference to have a child
- If the couple have children from a prior marriage living with them
Interestingly, factors that had no significant impact on the marriage stability include education, religiosity, and cohabitation before marriage.
Mark Brooks: eHarmony matches on similarities. TRUE matches more on complementary factors. Do opposites attract, really? TRUE argues that opposites make life more interesting. Please comment if you like these kinds of academic study reviews, and we'll do more of them (hi Fernando).