Advice for Romantics: Stay in School, Get a Job

The Boston Globe has a long story about the shift in marriage rates for educated women.

It looks like:

1. “The median age for a first marriage nationally is now 25.5 for women and 27 for men. It is even higher for those with graduate degrees. In Massachusetts, the median age at first marriage is 27.2 for women and 29.2 for men.”
2. “In a historic reversal of past trends – one that is good news for young girls who like to use big words – college graduates and high-earning women are now more likely to marry than women with less education and lower earnings, although they are older when they do so. Even women with PhDs no longer face a “success penalty” in their nuptial prospects.”
3. “[T]here is now a “success premium” for highly educated black women, who are more likely to get married and also more likely to stay married than other black women. Fewer than 50 percent of African-American women with a high school education are married, compared with more than 55 percent of African-American women with 19 years of school.”
4. “The 2001 Journal of Marriage and Family paper found that in mate-preference surveys taken in 1985 and 1996, intelligence and education had moved up to number 5 on men’s list of desirable qualities in a mate in both surveys, ahead of good looks. Meanwhile, the desire for a good cook and housekeeper had dropped to 14th place in both surveys, near the bottom of the 18-point scale. And in choosing a spouse, males with a college degree rate good looks much lower in importance than do high school graduates.”
5. “[C]ollege-educated couples have lower divorce rates than any other educational group. And in the last 30 years, while the marriages of less-educated women became less stable, the marriages of college-educated women became more stable. College graduates are more likely to have egalitarian ideas about sharing housework and breadwinning, and recent research shows that egalitarian ideas and behaviors improve marital satisfaction for both men and women.”
6. “They have better sex lives, too. According to sociologist Virginia Rutter of Framingham State College, surveys show that educated couples engage in more variety in their sex lives…. Educated husbands are also more likely to help with housework, which turns out to be a potent aphrodisiac.”
7. “In fact, Barnett’s new study of dual-earner couples, based on data from the 1990s, found that as the wife worked more, the husband’s view of the quality of his marriage actually improved. Surveys also show that the longer a woman holds a job, the more child care and housework her husband is likely to do, and that well-educated men have increased their housework more than less-educated ones.”
8. “[O]ne of the biggest predictors that a marriage will be stable and happy, according to Gottman, the psychologist, is if a husband responds positively when his wife expresses a desire for change. It helps if she asks nicely. But it doesn’t help if she avoids the issue and lets her discontent simmer.”





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