24 July 2009

Marriage Quiz; Myth or Fact

As seen in The Battlefords Regional Optimist
There was a study by Benjamin Caldwell and Scott Woolley looking at marital myths. It is titled: “Marriage and Family Therapists Endorsement of Myths about Marriage.” It is a quiz, so let’s take it and see how you do.
Having children usually brings a married couple closer?
Myth. Unfortunately having a child increases a couple’s stress. They are trying to cope and adjust to the changes and responsibilities that a child brings.
Men reap far greater benefits from marriage than women?
Myth. Marriage is a benefit to both. For men it is health related benefits and for women the benefits are economic. Remember, married men and women live longer, and are healthier, happier, and wealthier.
Married people have more sex than single people?
Fact. Simply put, single people just brag about it more.
Cohabitation before marriage decreases the chance of divorce?
Myth. This myth is so popular. It is shown from study to study that those who cohabitate before marriage divorce at a higher rate from those who don’t.
The majority of couples who divorce are high-conflict couples?
Myth. Actually only one in three are considered high conflict.
Children do better in stepfamilies than single-parent homes?
Myth. Even though stepfamilies do provide benefits that single-parent homes do not, such as higher economic standing, stepfamilies come with their own unique brand of struggles that weigh more than the benefits.
The more someone gives their spouse information, positive and negative, the greater the marital satisfaction of both partners?
Myth. Only positive information increases marital satisfaction. It is recommended to have five positives for every one negative.
Following a divorce, the economic standard of living drops roughly the same amount for both partners?
Myth. For women, their standard of living decreases following a divorce, while men’s typically increases.
Single women are at greater risk for violence than married women?
Fact. It is also true for men, both are about four times more likely to experience violence being single, compared to their married counterparts.
The factors most often cited by long-married couples as reasons for their successful marriages are romantic love and good luck?
Myth. Sorry, marriage takes work. It is more than luck and romance. The fire needs to be nurtured. The couple’s perception of their friendship is actually the best predictor of marital success.
Children are better off with divorced parents than with parents who are unhappily Married?
Myth. Note the word unhappy. This is not high conflict; these are those who are just dissatisfied with their marriage. Unhappily married parents can provide better benefits for their children than divorced parents. Divorce itself has a long lasting effect on children.
The quality of a married couple’s sex life is the single best statistical predictor of overall marital satisfaction?
Myth. Sex life ranks fourth, behind affective communication and problem solving skills, common interests, and leisure time spent together. In other words, it is the friendship that is most important for marital satisfaction.
Well, how did you do?


  1. Not too bad, very interesting statistics. I was surprised by the single parent vs step family benefits.

  2. Wow! I like this... Good job Josh!

  3. Did you read the actual study? The interesting fact of the study is that a surprising number of marriage and family therapists believe the same myths about marriage that many nonprofessionals do. The study suggest that there are serious deficiencies in the knowledge base of professional marriage and family therapists

    Two hundred and twenty-three marriage and family therapists surveyed by therapists Benjamin Caldwell and Scott Woolley of the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University correctly identified on average only about 9 of 21 statements as untrue. Among the myths most frequently endorsed: college educated women are less likely to marry than women with less education (only three percent got that one right); if divorced parents put forth positive attitudes about relationships, their children are no more likely to divorce than are children of married parents; single women are at less risk for violence than married women; and men reap far greater benefits from marriage than women.

    The study, in the December American Journal of Family Therapy, suggests that the life experiences and theoretical perspectives of marriage and family therapists influence their beliefs more than research findings do. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapists, who focus on communication patterns, often endorsed the myth that high-conflict couples are likelier to divorce. Single therapists were likelier to erroneously believe that single people's sex lives were better than those of married couples. And while Christians knew that cohabitation before marriage increases the chances of divorce, their more worldly colleagues said that was a myth.

    It is important to note that Caldwell and Woolley point out that no research has demonstrated a link between therapists' erroneous beliefs about marriage and adverse therapy outcomes. And marriage and family therapists might not be as uninformed as the survey suggests. Several of Caldwell and Woolley's 21 "myths" about marriage were boiled down from a large body of nuanced and conflicting research. Is it really a myth, for example, that "Children are better off with divorced parents than with parents who are unhappily married?" Psychologist Paul Amato, whose research on this issue is among the studies that Caldwell and Woolley cite, insists the issue is too complicated to merit a true or false answer. And therapist Constance Ahrons, author of The Good Divorce, adds that some of the statements Caldwell and Woolley designate as myths may say more about their own values than about what the research says. But Caldwell insists that each statement's true/false designation is backed by a considerable preponderance of evidence. They may be based upon averages, he says, but "we're confident about our statements."

    Nuanced research questions aside, the study does suggest that there are serious deficiencies in the knowledge base of marriage and family therapists. The survey included four "common knowledge" statements—factual statements based on hard, quantifiable data that every therapist ought to know. Although the therapists did better on these, about 20 percent didn't know that couples who marry before they're 18 are likelier to divorce, that the divorce rate increased from 1960 to 1990, and that nearly half the couples marrying this year will divorce. Only 64 percent knew that most young, single, never-married people will eventually marry.

    I would read the whole article as it discusses specific myths correlated with varying demographic, professional and family of origin variables. It also notes serious deficiencies in therapist training and practice.

    The whole article it can be found here:


    Information was gathered from the following article:


    Your article is very similar to this one;


  4. Yes, I did read the actual study. It was very interesting, and shocking that therapists too were guilty of the myths. It is why I wrote and published the article, not just for nonprofessionals, but also professionals out there in the area that read the article to realize our own flaws.

    It is true that our own past does influence how we think.

    The article really does call for better education among marriage and family therapists, as you pointed out, some didn't do very well on the test themselves, and they are supposed to be the professionals!

    As for the similarity to Laura Brotherson's article, I guess great mind's think alike. I thought putting it in a test form was more interactive for the readers then just talking about it.

  5. Thanks for your coverage of this article. I would be the first to agree that some of the myths encompass research that is more nuanced (and often more conflicting) than might warrant a rock-solid, true-or-false answer. We're working on a follow-up study now, where we're trying to address this better -- partly by changing the wording of some of the statements on our survey. I'd welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

    Warm regards,
    Ben Caldwell, PsyD

  6. JOsh I think a highly recommended book should be Why marriages succeed or fail, it is phenomenaol and isn't it by Gottman?