While Nine in Ten Are Satisfied in their Relationship, One in Six Have Cheated on their Partner

Many Are Moving Away from More Traditional Views of Marriage, though Open Relationships Still Taboo

Thursday, June 18, 2015

SEATTLE, WA – Of the 70% of US adults currently in a relationship or married, over nine in ten (94%) are satisfied with their relationship, according to a survey of over 2,000 Americans conducted on behalf of Avvo. Four in ten (39%) say that they have been in their relationship for over 20 years, though it is those who have been in a relationship between six months and two years who are most likely to be content with their partner (95%). Satisfaction in relationships is equal for men and women (94%).

Views on the Institution of Marriage

While many are happy with their current relationships, nearly a fifth of Americans (19%) believe that marriage is an outdated institution; with nearly a third of millennials (those ages 18-34) agreeing with this (29%), as opposed to only one in ten of those aged 55+ (9%). Similarly, over six in ten Americans (64%) say that they do not need a legal document to prove that they love their partner, with that sentiment much higher among men than women (71% to 58% comparatively).

Traditions like waiting until you are married to move in together are fading. Half of Americans (50%) have cohabitated with a partner, including nearly a quarter (23%) who did so without the expectation of marriage.

Thinking more about the evolution of marriage, half believe that same-sex marriage should be legal (51%), including nearly two thirds of Millennials (64%) who feel this way.

However, many see marriage as not being for everyone, with less than three in ten (29%) saying that marriage should be a goal everyone has in life. Still, most believe that relationships are meant to last, with only about one in ten (14%) disagreeing.

In fact, many adults (80%) would rather be alone, successful, and happy than in an unhappy relationship, with women being slightly more likely to feel this way than men (82% vs. 77%).

With these varied and evolving views on marriage, many are also accepting of views that differ from their own. Just a quarter of Americans (26%) are uncomfortable being friends with others that do not share their views on relationships.

Staying Together for the Kids…

When it comes to the role of children with regards to marriage, a third of respondents (33%) believe that if people have a child together, then they should get married. Men are more likely than women to believe that having a child together should result in a marriage (41% vs 26%, respectively). Just under a fifth (20%) say that if there is a child from the relationship, than the parents should never get a divorce, no matter their feelings – again, more men than women tend to agree (27% and 14%, respectively). A similar proportion (18%) believes that divorce is a sin.

  • Though nearly two in five think of divorce as sinful, only one in ten (12%) would not date a divorced individual. Far more (63%) say that they would not date someone who is married, even if the married individual was going through a separation.

While nearly three quarters (71%) believe that the loss of a ‘spark’ in a marriage is not a sufficient reason to get a divorce; over a third (37%) feel that couples that are not romantically involved should get a formal divorce. Less than a fifth of Americans (17%) believe that being separated from a spouse indefinitely, but not seeking a formal divorce is a practical idea – an arrangement that is the reality for 3% of respondents.

  • Parents (22%) are more likely to believe that this kind of arrangement is a practical idea.

Though divorce is relatively common – with 21% saying they have been divorced at some point-- just 2% of respondents overall say that they have entered into a prenuptial agreement, while 1% say that they have turned down a request for one. Many have hesitations about these agreements, with a third of respondents (33%) reporting that if their partner asked them to sign a prenuptial agreement, they would doubt their partner’s feelings. At the same time, just over a third (37%) of Americans believes that prenuptial agreements are necessary protection, with those who are not currently in a relationship being more likely to consider prenuptials an essential protection (45%) than those that are currently married (32%).

  • Among those who are divorced, one third (34%) of these divorces were considered uncontested, meaning that both parties filed cooperatively and likely did not involve court. This is the most common type of divorce filing, followed by a no-fault divorce (28%) and simplified divorces (18%).

Open Relationships Remain Taboo

Most Americans are generally against the idea of an open marriage, with two thirds (63%) saying that they are morally opposed to open relationships. Similarly, nearly seven in ten (65%) would leave their partners if their partner wanted an open relationship. At the same time, a third (32%) believes that open relationships are fine if both partners are interested in an open relationship.

However, relatively few actually practice open relationships; just 4% have entered an agreement with their partner that allowed them to have sex with other people, while 4% say that they have had sexual intercourse with someone outside of their relationship with their partner’s permission. Four times as many (16%) say that they have had sexual intercourse with someone outside of their relationship without their partner’s permission. More men say that have had sexual relationships without their partner’s permission than women (20% vs. 13%, respectively).

Private Prayer More Popular Than Religious Services

When it comes to their religious practices and beliefs, two thirds of Americans (66%) either frequently or occasionally communicate with a higher power, for example, through prayer. Women are more likely than men to engage in prayer (71% vs 61%, respectively). Nearly as many (60%) say that they contemplate their faith or their relationship with a higher power.

While majorities say that they engage in prayer and think about their faith, fewer (46%) say that they frequently or occasionally attend religious services. A similar proportion (44%) donates money to faith-based organizations at least occasionally, though slightly fewer (36%) donate their time to faith-based organizations.

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 11 –15, 2015. For the survey, a sample of 2,001 U.S. adults age 18 and over was interviewed online. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. The data were weighted to the U.S. current population data by gender, age, region and household income based on Census data. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Rebecca Sizelove Strong
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs

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While Nine in Ten Are Satisfied in their Relationship, One in Six Have Cheated on their Partner

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Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America