The blog — which is read by a lot of single, college-age women — has happy, funny stories and candid entries about “the challenging times,” said Mrs. Brown. “I get more responses with the good [entries] than I do with the bad,” she said. The negative stories draw out other personal confessions, “but with the good, I get a lot of ‘I want to see this in my own marriage, my own family.’”
As might be expected, the ADD Health data confirmed that when it comes to attitudes on commitment and permanence, young spouses scored the highest.
Cohabiting couples also showed solid attachment — 83 percent of women and 70 percent of men said they were dedicated to their partners, and 67 percent of women and 57 percent of men said they believed their cohabiting relationships were permanent.
Among dating couples, 70 percent of women and 63 percent of men said they were very committed to each other, but less than half — 48 percent of women and 42 percent of men — thought their relationships would last forever.
Still, Ms. Wildsmith and Ms. Manlove said they were surprised and pleased to see both genders express such positive attitudes about their relationships. The media tend to focus on relationship woes, but here — at least within established relationships — “we have this portrait of more committed relationships,” said Ms. Manlove.
The researchers did not explore why they found such sanguine findings but suggested that growing up around stable marriages, homes and communities are likely factors, as well as receiving relationship and marriage education.
Patty Howell, president of Healthy Relationships California, said men and women benefit when they are exposed to practical information associated with loving relationships and marriage.
“We’ve got valuable, life-changing skills” that can be taught and shared with couples, she said, noting that her organization issued a June report on the many positive results it collected from some 17,000 people who took one of its 18 relationship and marriage education courses in the past five years.
“The fact that we know we can really help couples succeed in their relationship together” is encouraging, said Ms. Howell. “As young couples gain access to these classes, it really helps build [their] confidence that we, as a young couple, can make it together.”
The ChildTrends findings of high levels of commitment in marriage ring true to Mrs. Brown. “Knowing that that commitment is there” means that “whatever happens, we will still be here together, we just have to figure it out. And that does bring an immense peace and happiness with it,” she said.
Mrs. BeBee, who married when she was 24 and her husband was 26, said young people should seriously consider the value and benefits of finding partners and marrying earlier in life.
Some young people want to focus only on their careers, she said, but “I don’t think you should settle for the information or portrayal that you deserve less than what God has for you, especially when it comes to love and marriage. I really think that with faith and tenacity you can achieve both in life.”