Hmm, not sure about this

The bigger the wedding, the happier the marriage, a new study has found.

According to a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, participants who had a formal wedding – with more guests – reported higher marital quality than those who didn’t.

Of 418 individuals who were studied over the course of five years, 41per cent of those who had a formal wedding reported marital quality in the top 40per cent, compared to 28per cent of couples who did not have a formal wedding.

Making a larger and more public commitment might have something to do with it perhaps?

16 comments on “Hmm, not sure about this

  1. I’d say this tends to support a view I’ve expressed here before; that marriage isn’t & never was solely about the union of two people & more the union of two families.
    Ignoring celebrity extravaganzas, large weddings imply the expense of large weddings & in most cases these will be born by the families. Although it’s traditional the costs of “the day” are the responsibility of the bride’s side, in practice there’s usually just as much contribution to starting off the new couple from the groom’s.
    And the families’ commitment doesn’t just end at the wedding but continues thereafter. So there’s less likelihood of the couple going on to experience the sort of things that break up marriages. Isolation, financial problems etc.
    Families don’t make these sort of investments for purely altruistic motives. There’s the continuation of the families themselves through the offspring of the union. But there’s also a benefit to the families themselves, in the shorter term. Because the marriage is the union of two families there’s benefits from the networking between the two. So there’s an interest in preserving the union by preserving the marriage.

  2. That study was presumably pursued in the pioneer country of Serial Monogamy. Did they distinguish first marriages from later ones?

    Anyhoo, they are going to imply that correlation implies causation, aren’t they? Because people in pursuit of research grants almost always do. (And in that case correlation probably does imply causation!)

  3. The report claims they controlled for education and for income but not for other factors. No stats though. A quick google search didnt turn up the paper.

  4. I agree with b(n)is. I suspect an important factor in marital satisfaction is larger and/or closer families. I’d also guess that this factor is associated with larger weddings.

    That this factor seems overlooked may be because it’s actually been found unimportant; or that it is important but does not fit the agenda of social engineers; or that it’s simply overlooked.

  5. Yes, those 300+ person Muslim weddings where the bride gets killed if she tries to divorce thereafter do tend to be successful in the sense that the couple stay together.

  6. The bride being dominant enough to spend tens of thousands of dollars at the beginning of the formal relationship means that the relationship is probably more stable over the years.

    The bride who has been refused a lush wedding will probably ensure a less stable relationship.

  7. On two separate occasions I have been told by clergymen that they had noticed a rough inverse correlation between expensive weddings and duration of the subsequent marriage.

    This is an informal observation limited to church weddings, obviously, but it sounds plausible to me.

  8. Sorry, pressed “Post” too soon there.

    I was going to say that I would imagine that the real graph of marriage-success versus money spent on wedding is roughly a bell shape. At one end, spur of the moment marriages tend to end equally impulsively. At the other end fixating on making one day into a detail-perfect fulfillment of fantasy tends to mean that the participants tend to forget it’s meant to be a lifetime commitment. Also getting in debt is not a good start to a marriage.

  9. I have heard similar anecdotal evidence to Natalie’s from various people. The subject of weddings is quite current for me, so I hear a lot of this kind of talk from different points of view. The “low spend :: good marriage” view is definitely the one I, and She, hold. Not that we want to abuse our guests, I hasten to add, but we would sooner restrict the spend per head than the number of heads.

    It’s worth emphasising the pull-out quote says, “This finding is not about spending lots of money on a wedding party, it’s about having a good number of friends and family in your corner” and I think that’s quite right. It is important to hold the distinction between large weddings (i.e., lots of people — Good Thing, we think) and expensive weddings (i.e., high spend per head — Bad Thing, we suspect).

    What the study doesn’t address, which to me is an interesting question, is whether it is just the scale of the social support network which helps, or is it important that people attend the wedding itself? One might investigate, for example, whether artificially restricting the guest list, for budget reasons say, makes a difference.

    Another interesting question is to compare the ratio between the ceremony congregation against the reception guests and see whether that has an effect. Some people are in communities where a noticeable number of non-invited guests will turn out to the public ceremony (not the reception, obviously) to support the couple; others aren’t in such a community. Does that make a difference?

  10. I’d be surprised if the correlation looked like anything other than a load of No. 8 birdshot fired at the wall. Even if there is a correlation, well, we all know the difference between correlation and causation.

  11. The ability to borrow large sums of money for a transient event might be influential. In times past it was cash up front. And/or a shot gun.

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