Why Stay Married? Rewards, Barriers, and Marital Stability



This paper describes people's open-ended, personal accounts of why they stay married. Most people perceived the cohesiveness of their marriages in terms of rewards and barriers, and few people referred to a lack of good alternatives. People who reported barriers only tended to be relatively unhappy with their marriages and were more likely than other individuals to be thinking about divorce. People who reported barriers only, compared with people who reported rewards only, were more likely to divorce during the next 14 years. This association was significant even after controlling for marital happiness and divorce proneness.