Breakdown of marriage and cohabitation is common in Western countries and is costly for individuals and society. Most research on reasons for breakdown has focused on marriages ending in divorce and/or have used data that is unrepresentative of the population. The research reports prevalence estimates of recently ended relationships, differences in partnership characteristics and reported reasons for recent breakdown of marriages and cohabitations in Britain.
15,162 people aged 16–74 years) were interviewed between 2010–2012, using computer-assisted personal interviewing. Participants’ reported reasons for live-in partnership breakdown in the past 5 years were examined and how they varied by gender and partnership type (married vs. cohabitation). Descriptive analyses of data from Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) were used.
Overall, 10.9% of men and 14.1% of women reported live-in partnership breakdown in the past 5 years. Mean duration of men’s marriages was 14.2 years versus cohabitations 3.5 years, and for women: 14.6 years versus 4.2 years. The most commonly reported reasons reported for live-in partnership breakdown irrespective of the partnership type among 706 men and 1254 women were that they grew apart, arguments, unfaithfulness/adultery, and lack of respect/appreciation. Some reasons reported include different interests/nothing in common, difficulties with sex, not having children, and drink/drugs/gambling. More women than men reported unfaithfulness, lack of respect/appreciation, money problems, and not sharing housework. Domestic violence was reported four times as often by women as by men.
These representative data on recently ended marriages and cohabitations among men and women in Britain show that there were more similarities than differences in the reasons reported for breakdown across partnership type. For both partnership types, the reported reasons relating to communication and relationship quality issues were most common, followed by unfaithfulness/adultery.
2 TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 ABSTRACT 2
2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 3
3 INTRODUCTION 4
3.1 Research problem 4
3.2 Research question and hypothesis 4
3.3 The goal of the research 4
3.4 Literature Review 4
4 RESEARCH METHODS 5
4.1 Sample Description 5
4.2 Research Tools and Design 5
4.3 Variables, conceptual and Theoretical Framework 5
4.4 Main Findings 5
4.4.1 Prevalence of recently ended partnerships 5
4.4.2 Sociodemographic and partnership characteristics 6
4.4.3 Reported reasons for the breakdown 6
5 PERSONAL CRITIQUE 6
5.1 The reasoning of the author 6
5.2 Counter argument 6
5.3 Bias from the author 7
5.4 The relevance of the Article 7
5.5 The effectiveness of the research 7
5.6 Suggestion to improve the research 7
5.7 Future of research 7
6 REFERENCES 8
3.1 Research problem
The dissolution of committed and fulfilling relationships has become a norm in contemporary Western countries. The breakdown of important relationships creates feelings of anger, sadness, isolation, and grief just to mention a few. (Simpson, 1987) says “Few experiences in life are capable of producing more emotional distress, anguish, and suffering than the dissolution of an important relationship. Indeed, the loss of a significant partner can be one of the most, if not the most, distressing and traumatic experiences that life has to offer”. Thus, the study of the dissolution of partnerships has become of interest to the society, who carry out research to identify factors associated with partnership breakdown. For the knowledge acquired is important for relationship counselors and couples to evaluate their own experience. Furthermore, it is useful for guiding preventive interventions by providing relationship and marriage advice.
3.2 Research question and hypothesis
The research interviewed individuals to disclose a fundamental question in the study of relationship dissolution: what reasons partners give for ending a marriage or cohabitation? Additionally, this research hypothesized that the reported reasons within-gender differences are the main causes of conflict in distressed relationships.
3.3 The goal of the research
The objective of the study was to find the frequency the reasons for live-in partnership breakdown between the different genders.
3.4 Literature Review
In Great Britain and Europe, marriage rates have steadily declined in recent decades, reducing the divorce rates, which have fallen to their lowest level for forty years, while more couples now opt to cohabit for longer (Bingham ; Kirk, 2015). The shift is because of a transformation of social attitudes. However, fewer cohabiting couples currently end up marrying and are less likely to divorce while the majority of cohabiting couples separate without getting married.
Reasons cited for live-in partnership breakdown vary with norms and possibilities of the societies in which couples live in. According to a Dutch national survey of different divorce cohorts from 1949 to 1996, they observed emotional and expressive reasons such as growing apart, not getting enough attention, and problems related to managing work and household duties, particularly among women, while infidelity and violence declined in prevalence over time. Domestic violence, which has severe effects on physical and emotional health, remains a significant problem in Britain (Dinisman ; Moroz, 2017). It is frequently reported as a reason for breakups by women but rarely by men. Also, several studies have shown that women are more likely than men to specify a larger number of reasons and to provide more complex explanations for the live-in partnership breakdown. This implies that women are less satisfied with their live-in partnerships than the men (Rosenfeld, 2017). Moreover, women more often than men report motives such as infidelity, unhappiness, and money problems.
4 RESEARCH METHODS
4.1 Sample Description
Natsal-3 was used, which aimed to interview a representative sample of men and women aged 16-74 living in private households in Great Britain. A sample totaling to 15,162 men and women were interviewed between September 2010 and August 2012. The number of men who took part was 6293, the rest being women. The response rate was 57.7% which was consistent with other population-based surveys completed around the same time, and the co-operation rate was 65.8%.
4.2 Research Tools and Design
Research tools used to collect data through interview were a combination of face-to-face Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI), followed by Computer-Assisted Self-Interview (CASI), and then a final CAPI. Participants who reported a breakdown of a live-in partnership of at least a month duration in the 5 years prior to the interview, were asked in the second CAPI why the partnership ended by showing them a card that listed 12 predefined reasons to choose from. Multiple reasons could be reported. Participants who had previously stated their marital status as “widowed”, or who reported “death of partner” as the reason for relationship breakdown, were not asked any further reasons and were therefore excluded from the analysis. Here, the study primarily presents descriptive data for sexually-experienced (i.e. those reporting one or more sexual partners ever) men and women aged 16–74 years who reported the breakdown of a live-in partnership (either opposite-sex or same-sex partnership) that they had been in during the 5 years prior to interview and at least a reason that resulted in ending the partnership.
4.3 Variables, conceptual and Theoretical Framework
STATA – a data analysis and statistical software tool was utilized to account for the stratification, clustering, and weighting of the Natsal-3 data. Weighted prevalence estimates, means, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) are presented. To analyze how the reported reasons for the ended partnership (independent variable) vary by partnership type pre-breakdown (outcome variable), logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios adjusted for participants’ age at interview and the duration of the recently ended partnership for each reason. A Wald test was used to calculate global p-values for the logistic regression analyses. Proportional Venn diagrams were used to present the overlap between the most common reasons by gender and by most recent ended partnership type.
4.4 Main Findings
4.4.1 Prevalence of recently ended partnerships
Overall, 10.9% of men and 14.1% of women in Natsal-3 reported the end of a live-in partnership. Among those who reported the end of a live-in partnership:
• 70 men and 144 women cited the death of a partner in the 5 years prior to the interview.
• 706 men and 1254 women reported at least one reason for why their most recent partnership ended, excluding the death of a partner.
• 138 men and 224 women reported more than one ended live-in partnership in the 5 years prior to the interview.
4.4.2 Sociodemographic and partnership characteristics
Mean age at interview for men who had been married was 46.4 years and 33.8 years for men who had cohabited. The corresponding means for women were 43.5 years and 31.8 years respectively. Looking at the characteristics of the most recent ended partnerships, the mean age at the start of living together for men was similar whether they had been married at the start: 29.7 years or cohabited: 28.5 years, and similarly for women: 26.9 years and 25.9 years respectively. About one in six men and women were married from the start of living together, one in six cohabited then married, and two-thirds only ever cohabited. Mean duration of men’s ended marriages was 14.2 years, while for cohabitations it was 3.5 years. Corresponding numbers for women were 14.6 years and 4.2 years, respectively. Altogether, 1.9% of men and 3.5% of women ended live-in partnerships had been with a same-sex partner.
4.4.3 Reported reasons for the breakdown
The most commonly reported reasons reported for live-in partnership breakdown by both men and women were that they grew apart, followed by arguments, unfaithfulness/adultery, and lack of respect/appreciation. Some reasons reported include different interests/nothing in common, difficulties with sex, not having children, and drink/drugs/gambling. More women than men reported unfaithfulness, lack of respect/appreciation, money problems, and not sharing housework. Domestic violence was reported four times as often by women as by men.
About half the participants gave only one reason for a breakdown, one in five gave two, and a little over one in four gave three or more reasons; in total an average of just under two reasons per participant. More men than women reported a single reason, one-fifth of both men and women reported two, and fewer men than women reported three or more. Roughly two-thirds of both men and women cited one or more of the three most prevalent reasons: grew apart, arguments, and unfaithfulness/adultery. Men who cohabited were more likely than those who were married to cite the reason for moving because of a change in circumstances. Women who cohabited were less likely than those who were married to cite not sharing housework and difficulty with sex as reasons for their partnership ending
5 PERSONAL CRITIQUE
5.1 The reasoning of the author
The authors observe that there are more similarities than differences between recently ended marriages and cohabitations among men and women in Britain. For both types of partnership, the reported reasons relating to communication and relationship quality dominated, followed by unfaithfulness/adultery.
5.2 Counter argument
Although Natsal-3 survey gave participants the option of reporting several reasons for the recent breakdown, the use of predefined categories, especially in the Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI), limited the possibility of obtaining explanations for live-in partnership breakdown formulated by participants themselves. Reasons such as ‘grew apart’ and ‘arguments’ that are options to choose from the CAPI are too general, hence the participants cannot give their attributions that led to growing apart or arguments.
5.3 Bias from the author
The Natsal study helped to collect data on the reasons for breakdowns from individuals but not on who (the partner) was responsible for the reason that led to the break-up.
5.4 The relevance of the Article
The research points out the main reasons that cause conflict in a live-in partnership that ultimately result in breakdowns.
5.5 The effectiveness of the research
The research was effective in that it was based on a large probability-sample survey so that the data collected and analyzed could be considered as a broad representation of the British population. This was achieved by using Natsal, the only large-scale representative study of men and women to provide data on the reported reasons for the breakdown of marriage or cohabitation. Given the limited age range of previous Natsal studies, this paper provides the first data across a broad age range, corresponding to much of adulthood.
5.6 Suggestion to improve the research
It would be better if participants in Natsal-3 were asked to rank the reported reasons in order of importance. Similarly, the questions should be able to establish the extent to which the conduct of each partner was implicated in the reasons for a breakdown.
5.7 Future of research
Future studies might attempt, where possible, to interview both partners to explore more fully initiation of the break-up, the attribution and weighting of cited reasons. The case can be made for distinguishing between the different types of cohabitations and addressing new topics, such as disagreement on the use of social media within the partnership.