Legalization of Marriage May Drive Some Apart

I remember the first month I was married driving home and thinking, well, I made it through one month.  Now only a couple of thousand more.  A new study is saying that same-sex couples may feel the same way.

In fact, legalization may drive them apart.

The study, by economists at the University of Arkansas, shows that relationship hazard rates – the threat of breakups – among same-sex couples will likely increase with the probability of legalization.

“Though this and our other findings suggest legalization may not be advantageous for all same-sex couples, we are not advocating for same-sex marriage to remain illegal,” newswise.com quotes Amy Farmer, professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “We’re simply focusing on economics of the household, showing how this rapidly changing issue – through legislation and court decisions – will affect people in this area.” 

The study involved three stages.  Stage one began with participants in a dating relationship revealing their preferences for cohabitation or continued dating, the Web site explains. If both players chose the same preference, they moved up to stage two and were placed in those respective categories – “cohabitation” or “continue dating.” This move required agreement. Stage three was defined by participants, whether cohabitating or dating, choosing to continue in their current state, get married or exit the relationship.


Results revealed that falling migration costs (chosing to move to a state where same-sex marriage is legal) and the greater probability of legalization actually increased relationship hazard rates among same-sex couples.

 This is possible, Farmer said, because, when migration costs fal,l marriage is more possible, and all is well if both partners want to marry. "In fact, the likelihood that they will want to marry rises. However, if one member of the couple really doesn’t want to marry, now they have a point of disagreement, something that wasn’t on the table before," newswise reports.

“So the marriage option can create friction if preferences differ,” Farmer said. “That friction might result in a relationship hazard.”  My husband didn't want to get married for over 10 years (I guess you could say I didn't, either).  We fought all the time over it.  But I think I really kind of liked that he was so resistant because then I didn't have to face my own fears.

The model also generated surprising predictions regarding why and how marriage would improve household economics. The researchers found that for some same-sex couples, marriage would not improve the economics of their households, and in some cases it would worsen them.

So I guess all's the same in love and war.  When you're in a relationship -- no matter whether it's with the opposite sex or your own -- it's often always a challenge.  Gender has nothing to do with it.


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