It is Day 28 of the Nowhere To Be Project and I spent it revisiting my social science roots a bit. I came across a British study today on marriage that boasted the following headlines:
“More than 9.6 million Brits have regrets about their marriage.”
“One in twenty married adults believe they married the wrong person.”
“One in ten married Brits are heartbroken over the one that got away.”
“1.6 million currently married Brits regret having had an affair.”
Interestingly enough, despite these perceived failures with love and marriage, researchers indicated that a good portion of participants were still able to find fulfillment through friendship and travel. Even though the study ended on a positive note with friendship and travel, reading these declarations made me so sad. My travels just wouldn’t be as thrilling without my husband who also happens to be my best friend. We both worked really hard to retire early to travel and spend more time together. We’re actually excited about spending months on end together in a tiny RV! I’m currently in an amazing marriage, but I have experience in a really bad one as well. Needless to say, I know what matrimonial regrets and what-ifs can feel like. I also know that the fairy tale is possible. I decided to dig a bit deeper into the study.
The research was sponsored by an insurance company and was conducted by an organization called Opinium in January of this year. I couldn’t find any information on the research methods, data collection, or data analysis other than the claim that the sample used was comprised of 2002 adults and was representative of the population as a whole. As a former psychology professor, peer-reviewed empirical research was a major focus in my work, research and teaching. Since I’m not sure that the steps for conducting valid and reliable research were followed here, I am hanging on to the fleeting hope that perhaps the data is flawed in some way.
Maybe the claim that nearly ten million Brits regret their marriage is erroneous. Perhaps the number of people who think they married the wrong person or lost out with the one that got away is much, much lower. And maybe, just maybe, there are fewer than 1.6 million citizens in need of a scarlet letter. If, by chance, the data happens to be correct, I’d ask that no matter how dark things may seem, never cast aside the possibility of happily ever after. It’s real and it happened to me.
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Direct Line Insurance, 2018. Unhappily Ever After: 1.4 Million Brits Are Married To The Wrong Person. Retrieved from https://www.directlinegroup.com/media/news/brand/2018/14032018.aspx