You’ve been married before. Your mate hasn’t. According to a University of Michigan study, this kind of mixed marriage is becoming more common even though potential partners in the modern mating game continue to gravitate to others with similar marital histories. "Marital history is something that’s every bit as important in choosing a mate as age, education, religion, and race," said Hiromi Ono, a sociologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), the world’s largest academic survey and research organization. Her article on the tendency to marry someone with a similar marital history—"marital history homogamy"—is forthcoming in Social Science Research journal.
Ono calls remarriages, including mixed-history unions, "leaky" marriages because emotional and financial resources often drain out of the current relationship to help support and maintain ties to children and ex-spouses. Sometimes, she notes, remarried spouses "plug" the leaks by cutting ties to former spouses and ignoring commitments to children. But sometimes the leaks are so large the new marriage eventually sinks.
For her study, Ono analyzed data on non-Hispanic whites from the ISR Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative longitudinal study of nearly 8,000 U.S. families, conducted since 1968 and funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. Her analysis was supported by the ISR Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "With people marrying later these days, there are more single, never-married adults than ever in the marriage market," she said. But even though intermarriage between the divorced and the never married has been increasing, it’s still relatively rare.
Diane Swanbrow | EurekAlert!
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