A picture of marital bliss? Survey finds many married couples are happy

(Photo: Unsplash/Gabby Orcutt)

The headlines around high divorce rates and celeb couples breaking up may be more familiar, but a Sunday Times survey has found that many married couples are happy in their unions.

The number of couples choosing to marry today is lower than in previous decades, with the Office for National Statistics revealing that, in 2017, just over half of adults in England and Wales were married. 

But the figures from the Sunday Times Style survey of 2,000 people suggest that many of those who do choose to get married feel positive about their relationship. 

Of those surveyed, 89% said they were happy in their marriage, while 81% said that marriage was important for long-term relationships. 

Nearly all of those surveyed (97%) said trust was important to their marital happiness, and 90% said they trusted their partner.

Three quarters said they had married for love and nearly half (47%) for commitment, while only 23% said they got married in order to have children. 

Of the 5% who said they felt less happy after getting married, they cited children (40%) and finances (38%) as reasons for staying together. 

Despite the high proportion who said they were happy in their marriage, arguments were still the norm for nearly half, with 46% saying they argued once a week or more. 

The arguments were mostly about money (38%) or housework (29%), with 44% admitting that they kept secrets from their spouse when it came to finances. 

The survey also revealed a gender disparity when it came to the emotional load in the marriage - the term given for the emotional effort of managing the household. 

Nearly two thirds of the women surveyed (63%) said they were carrying it in the relationship, and only 32% of women said it was shared equally by both spouses. 

This differed from the 52% of men who said that the emotional load was shared equally and the nearly one in five men (19%) who said they were carrying it. 

Dr Julia Carter, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of the West of England, told The Sunday Times: "Sadly, we live in a society where this kind of inequality is continually downplayed.

"Of course, we know from research that there continue to be significant disparities in the division of domestic labour, childcare and emotional labour."