60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll

Marriage
October 26-30, 2016

Which comes closest to your view about the main purpose of marriage today? To mark the
commitment of two people in love, to provide the best environment for raising children, or it
doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose today.

Marriage isn’t just for raising children.
According to most Americans, the reason to marry is for love, not to raise children. 53% of Americans
say the main purpose of marriage is to mark the commitment of two people in love, while just 23% think
the primary purpose of marriage is to provide the best environment for raising children. One in five
doesn’t think marriage has much of a purpose today at all.
Parents (50%) and non-parents (54%) alike tend to see love as the primary reason for marriage, as do
most Americans who are married (57%) or are single and have never been married (54%). Those who
are currently divorced or separated are a little more cynical about the institution: they are less likely
than others to see it as a mark of commitment (40%) and more likely than Americans overall to think
marriage doesn’t have much purpose today (24%).
The Main Purpose of Marriage Today
Total
Single
Married
A mark of commitment
53%
54%
57%
To provide for raising children23
15
25
29
It doesn’t have much purpose
20
28
15

Divorced/Separated
40%
24

Which one of the following comes closest to how you usually feel about couples who have been
married for 50 years?

50 years of marriage is an inspiring accomplishment.
Americans seem to find inspiration in couples who have been married for most of their lives. When
asked how they feel about couples who have been married for 50 years or more, nearly all – 91% think this is an inspiring achievement. Just 6% tend to think about how the couple must be so tired of
each other by now. Seniors 65 and over – the only age group that could realistically be married for so
long – are slightly less impressed by this achievement than younger Americans.
Feelings about Couples Who Have Been Married for 50 Years
Total
18-64
Wow, what an inspiring accomplishment
91%
93%
Yikes, they must be so tired of each other
6
6

65+
87%
8

In general, which one of the following poses the greatest threat to marriage?

Beware the Green-Eyed Monster.
Of all the things that can beset a marriage, Americans pick jealousy as the number one danger. 26% of
Americans think jealously poses the greatest threat to matrimonial happiness from a list of five, followed
by poverty (19%) and boredom (18%). Tied for last place are narcissism (15%), and a far more recent
phenomenon, the internet (15%).
Americans who are single and have never married agree with those who are currently married that
jealousy (27%) is the greatest threat to a marriage. Divorced or separated Americans, however, pick
boredom (22%) and poverty (21%) as greater threats, and they think the internet (18%) is just as
dangerous as jealousy (18%).

Jealousy
Poverty
Boredom
Narcissism
The internet

The Greatest Threat to Marriage Is…
Total
Single
Married
26%
27%
27%
19
16
19
18
18
17
15
17
16
15
18
12

Divorced/Separated
18%
21
22
15
18

In general, do you think that children of divorced parents work harder at marriage than most
other people in their own adult lives, don’t work as hard at marriage than most other people, or
is there no real difference?

Most think children of divorced parents work just as hard at marriage as everyone else.
Some people have posited that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced themselves.
If this is indeed the case, most Americans don’t think it’s for any particular lack of effort. Just 12% of
Americans think children of divorced parents don’t work as hard at marriage as most other people,
while more than twice as many – 28% - think they actually work harder at it than everybody else. Most,
however, think children of divorced parents are no different than anyone else when it comes to trying to
make a marriage work.
Americans who are currently divorced or separated themselves are more likely than others to think
children of divorced parents work harder at marriage: more than a third thinks so.
Compared to Most People, Children of Divorced Parents…
Total
Single
Married
Divorced/Separated
Work harder at marriage
28%
29%
26%
35%
Don’t work as hard at marriage
12
11
14
11
No difference
52
54
51
52

Which type of romance is usually more entertaining - a beautiful love story that ends in a new
marriage or a torrid affair that ends an existing marriage?

Americans prefer romances that end happily ever after.
Fairy tales where the prince and princess marry and live happily ever after may be loved by many
children, but it turns out that they may be the most engaging type of romance for adults as well. When
asked which type of romance was more entertaining – a beautiful love story that ends in marriage or a
torrid affair that breaks up an existing marriage – three in four Americans choose the former (73%).
There is little difference among Americans based on their marital status: those who are single,
married, or divorced or separated all tend to prefer a beautiful love story that ends in marriage, though
men (69%) are slightly less likely to prefer this type of story than women (76%). There are also
differences by age. While 70% of Americans under 35 prefer happy endings, this percentage rises to
82% among those between 35 and 44 – the age when many are traditionally starting a family. But as
Americans hit middle age and beyond, enthusiasm for beautiful love stories ending in marriage starts to
cool down again.
Which Romance is More Entertaining?
Total
18-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
A beautiful love story that ends in marriage 73%
70% 82% 76% 68% 70%
A torrid affair that breaks up a marriage
17
23
13
17
18
13

Which comes closest to how you feel about monogamy, that is, a romantic relationship where a
couple only has sexual relations with each other? 1. Monogamy is fundamental to most
romantic relationships today, or 2. Monogamy is not realistic for most romantic relationships
today.

Monogamy is still the best policy for most Americans.
It may be old-fashioned, but most Americans still think monogamy is fundamental to most romantic
relationships today. 64% think so, while just 26% instead think monogamy is not realistic for most
romantic relationships. Americans tend to view monogamy similarly regardless of gender, marital
status, or political philosophy.
But though it may be thought of as old-fashioned, monogamy is not particularly championed by older
Americans. Though a majority of 57% of seniors think monogamy is fundamental to most romantic
relationships, this is a lower percentage than found among any other age group.

Fundamental
Not realistic

How Do You Feel About Monogamy?
Total
18-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
64%
62% 69% 69% 69% 57%
26
30
24
24
21
30

What’s the best advice for someone about to get married?

Make sure you’re compatible. And if you are, make sure you communicate.
Americans have lots of advice to give to someone who is about to get married. When asked to come
up with their own responses as to what they’d say to a potential newlywed, the top two messages
conveyed are to make sure you find the right person that you’re compatible with (12%), and to
communicate with each other (12%). Another one in 10 says it’s important to be committed to the
marriage and not to give up (10%).
Communication is the top piece of advice given by women, while know who you’re marrying is the top
choice for men.
Other popular words of wisdom are to make sure you’re ready to get hitched (6%) to be honest and
truthful (6%), to trust each other (4%), to support each other (4%) to not fight or at least to work out
your issues (4%), to make sure you show them you love them (4%), and to work hard at it, because it’s
hard work (4%).
Some Americans are more cynical, however. A few say they’re only advice is to not go through with it
(4%), while others can only wish them luck (4%).
The Best Advice for Someone about to Get Married
Total
Men Women
Make sure you’re compatible
12%
13% 10%
Communicate/listen
12
10
14
Be committed/Don’t give up
10
9
10
Be honest/truthful
6
5
6
Make sure you’re ready for marriage
6
8
4
Trust each other
4
3
4
Support each other/teamwork
4
4
3
Don’t fight/work out your issues
4
3
6
Show them you love them
4
3
6
Work hard at it/it’s hard work
4
3
5
Just don’t do it
4
5
3
Good luck
4
4
3
_________________________________________________________________________________
This poll was conducted by telephone from October 26-30, 2016 among a random sample of 1,016 adults
nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were
dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.
The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected
from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered
the phone.
Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to
reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.
The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points.
The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of
standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll
Marriage
October 26-30, 2016
VF-01. Which comes closest to your view about the main purpose of marriage today?

To mark the commitment of two people in love
To provide the best environment for raising children
It doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose today
Don’t know/no answer

************** TOTAL RESPONDENTS **************
**************** Marital Status ****************
Total Single Married
Divorced/Separated
%
%
%
%
53
54
57
40
23
15
25
29
20
28
15
24
4
3
4
8

VF-02. Which one of the following comes closest to how you usually feel about couples who have been married
for 50 years?

Wow, what an inspiring accomplishment
Yikes, they must be so tired of each other
Don’t know/no answer

Total
%
91
6
3

*** Age ***
18-64 65+
%
%
93
87
6
8
2
5

VF-03. In general, which one of the following poses the greatest threat to marriage?

Narcissism
Boredom
Jealousy
Poverty
The internet
Don’t know/no answer

Total
%
15
18
26
19
15
7

**************** Marital Status ****************
Single Married
Divorced/Separated
%
%
%
17
16
15
18
17
22
27
27
18
16
19
21
18
12
18
3
8
6

VF-04. In general, do you think that children of divorced parents work harder at marriage than most other people
in their own adult lives, don’t work as hard at marriage than most other people, or is there no real difference?
Work harder
Don’t work as hard
No difference
Don’t know/no answer

28
12
52
8

29
11
54
6

26
14
51
9

35
11
52
3

VF-05. Which type of romance is usually more entertaining?

A beautiful love story that ends in a new marriage
A torrid affair that ends an existing marriage
Don’t know/no answer

********** TOTAL RESPONDENTS **********
***************** Age ****************
Total 18-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
%
%
%
%
%
%
73
70
82
76
68
70
17
23
13
17
18
13
10
6
5
7
14
17

VF-06. Which comes closest to how you feel about monogamy, that is, a romantic relationship where a couple
only has sexual relations with each other? - Monogamy is fundamental to romantic relationships today or
monogamy is not realistic for most romantic relationships today.

Monogamy is fundamental
Monogamy is not realistic
Depends (vol.)
Don’t know/no answer

Total
%
64
26
3
6

**************** Marital Status ****************
Single Married
Divorced/Separated
%
%
%
61
67
65
29
25
25
4
3
3
6
5
8

VF-07. What's the best advice for someone about to get married?
Total
%
Communicate/be open (be forthcoming/listen)
12
Know who you’re marrying /that you’re compatible
12
Be committed/don’t give up/it’s for a lifetime/do it for life 10
Be honest/truthful/be trustworthy
6
Make sure marriage is the right/best thing for you
6
Trust/have trust/have faith in each other
4
Support each other/be supportive/understanding
4
Don’t fight/avoid arguments/talk it out/apologize/forgive
4
Love them/show them you love them
4
Work hard at it/at the marriage/it’s a lot of work
4
Don’t do it/don’t get married
4
Good luck/wish them luck/congratulations
4
Other
21
Don’t know/no answer
5

Total respondents:

1,016

****** Sex ******
Men
Women
%
%
10
14
13
10
9
10
5
6
8
4
3
4
4
3
3
6
3
6
3
5
5
3
4
3
25
20
5
6