Hopeless romantics yearn for soul mates
The results were highly romantic: Two-thirds of Americans said they believed in the idea of soul mates.
People living in the South, compared with other regions, were most likely to believe in soul mates, and women were more likely than men to believe in soul mates, 69 percent to 63 percent.
The biggest “soul mate” approval came from people ages 18 to 29, with 73 percent believing in soul mates, compared with 62 percent of those 60 and older.
Marist College researchers didn’t ask the 530 married respondents whether they married their soul mates, but did query them on “Do you think you married the right person or not?” They got a resounding yes from 95 percent of respondents.
Again, they found significant differences by region and age.
In the South, Midwest and West, between 96 percent and 97 percent of spouses were sure they had married the “right person,” but in the Northeast, only 90 percent thought they had married correctly, with a whopping 10 percent answering “no” to the “right person” question.
Age also made a difference. An astonishing 100 percent of spouses ages 18 to 29 said they married the right person, and older spouses (in the 45-59 and 60-and-older age brackets) were also confident they had married correctly, with 97 percent and 96 percent agreeing, respectively.
But those in the 30-44 age bracket were a tad wobbly, with 92 percent saying they had married the right person and 8 percent saying they had not.
For their newly published paper, Mr. Wilcox and colleague Jeffrey Dew examined data on about 1,400 married men and women in the Louisiana Marriage Matters project. Many of these spouses were in the state’s hard-to-dissolve covenant marriages.
But Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Dew also found that just holding traditional views of marriage — with the breadwinner father and the stay-at-home mother — didn’t bring happiness for many modern couples either.
Instead, the happiest marriages were a hybrid of “new” and “old,” Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Dew wrote. These couples, they said, combined “a proper appreciation for the expressive dimension of married life” (such as qualities of passionate soul-mate marriage) with elements of tried-and-true marriages, such as “lifelong commitment, lifelong fidelity” and connections to children, community and religion.
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