Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wanted: More Liberals to Take my Survey--Plus, Some Preliminary Results

It's been less than two days since I posted my survey asking about men's and women's roles in marriage, and already I have more than 550 responses. If you haven't taken the survey (described in the post immediately below), please do:
Click Here to take survey

Most participants came from my link on Townhall.com, and therefore include respondents who describe themselves as conservative or "right-leaning" (93%). I don't really have connections to any blogs or sites frequented by liberals/progressives, but I'd love to have a broader picture--so I'd appreciate if you could please refer others, or link to my survey.

In the meantime, I'm moved by the thought and insight in the answers provided so far.

As of now, more husbands than wives have responded (60%-40%). Participants were married from 3 months to 57 years, with lengths of marriage pretty evenly represented (fewer as years married increase, of course).

Sixty-four percent said they were "very happy" in their marriages; another 28% chose "happy."

An aside: I wonder if this reflects recent research showing that by every measure, conservatives are happier than liberals. Arthur Brooks, summarizing the research from his 2008 book Gross National Happiness to Free Republic, explained it this way:

"About half the 'happiness gap' is explained by two demographic differences. Conservatives are far more religious than liberals, on average, and much more likely to be married. Faith and marriage both strongly improve life quality for most people."

My survey was for married people, so one criterion for happiness was met. They also overwhelmingly reported preference for religion, many using religious references in their comments, so, two down.

Brooks continues, "The other half of the gap is explained by differing worldviews. Conservatives generally look at society and see a collection of individuals. Liberals are much stronger at the level of the collective... Conservatives feel more in control of their world than liberals do; liberals are more likely to feel like victims when others don’t behave the way they 'should.'” Interesting.

Back to my results: Participants in my survey provided perceptive and personal responses to the open-ended questions, especially regarding what makes their marriages work. My eyeballing of ingredients to their happiness, and advice to engaged couples, reveals themes of 1. shared religion, 2. shared devotion to children, and 3. communication/intimacy.

Though in many marriages the wife did not work, a similar number reported wives bringing in the bulk of the income. Only three surveys showed the husband bringing in 0% of the income, however. A large majority reports that the wife does most of the housework, though several people thought I should have included a housework category acknowledging children's contribution. Many noted that the economic climate now requires both partners' incomes, even if they would prefer the wife to focus on home and children.

Questions about the passage of California's Proposition 8, and views on same-sex marriage brought the expected traditionally-minded responses, with many citing the Bible or religious basis for their positions. A large number expressed compassion for gays, but while not opposed to civil union, insisted the time-honored definition of marriage remain.

These findings are not surprising given the self-selected audience, of course, but the eloquence of the personal expressions was touching and will be useful in my book. I just read over one survey where the writer's answers broke my heart--the psychologist in me kicks in! I want to personally respond to so many of the comments--I hope on Wednesday when I guest-host the third hour of the Michael Medved radio show, I'll be able to have a dialog about some of these issues.

I can argue the reasons why gender differences are the crux of marriage but the passion and sense of the comments I've received adds dimension and vitality to the discussion.

I feel honored so many people took the time to complete my survey, and if you did, I hope it was personally beneficial. Please share the questionnaire with your spouses and friends (and especially, refer liberals!) This isn't just about a book project or a political proposition, it's about the very essence of our most central and intimate relationships, a topic always worth exploring.


  1. I might suggest that you contact Ann Althouse [her personal email is in her profile] who has a busy blog and there are lots of liberals who frequent it. She also has an interest in psychology and gender. She might be able to issue a call for married liberals to complete your survey.

  2. You should link your survey with digg.com if you want more liberal people.

  3. Well,

    If you've had 550 responses then your blogspot blog is generating more traffic than I thought possible.

    I'll take the survey even though I'm not a liberal.

  4. And by the way, I'm sorry for leaving a comment that made it obvious that I had not yet read the entire post. I've read it now and I repent.

  5. Diane subbed for her husband on his show today and she nailed the sign off! Plus she was an engaging host for the full hour. Michael, she'd make a great sub when you are off, but I guess that won't work, because why would you want her to fill in when you take the day off and can be with her?

    You guys are a great role model for traditional families. Keep up the good work.

  6. Sorry, I am not liberal or even left-leaning. I am probably not smart enough to understand, but there's got to be somebody out there who can explain. I just don't understand what is such a big deal about gay marriage. My husband and I do not know personally anyone who is gay - so we do not know their side of the story. But generally speaking, it's not like gays are asking to be pardoned for murder. All they want is to have the right to legally marry and have a family, legal family. Just like we did when we got married. It may be funny and awkward when a man calls himself a wife or a woman thinks she is a husband, but who cares?Why is this such a problem and how does this effect the rest of us?

  7. Hi Diane,
    I enjoyed listening to you as you filled in for Michael last night. I wanted to respond to an exchange you had with a caller and his refusal to accept your premise about how Gay marriage is bad for society that turned into a kind of circular argument on his part.

    I think you were arguing opposite points:
    His interest, as a Liberal, is in preventing society from enforcing accountability on those they see as incapable. His belief is that Homosexuals are incapable of changing who/what they are, so to him it isn’t fair that society deny gay couples a Marriage License. (Being denied a license is a form of accountability)

    If I may clarify your position:
    As a conservative, you believe we should reward certain behaviors that are important to a successful society (rewards are a form of accountability) because you believe in the capability of others to control their behaviors.

    I hear and read frequently Liberals arguing people not be held accountable while refusing to consider whether or not the person/group is capable. Conservatives argue from the position that others are capable, so naturally they should experience the resulting accountability.

    Look at any left/Right division and you will always see the Left’s position is you are incapable and unaccountable while the Right believes you capable and accountable.

    For example:
    The Abortion debate has nothing to do with babies and everything to do with the avoidance or application of accountability. (Pregnancy, I’m sure you would agree, is a pretty severe form of accountability) The Left views others (and I would suggest specifically Women and Minorities) as incapable of the behaviors necessary to prevent pregnancy so they will do anything they can to prevent the application of any accountability. The Left is, if nothing else, very consistent so we get “safe sex”. I would suggest a more accurate title would be “accountability free sex”.

    It doesn’t take much to understand how; Affirmative action, Bilingual education, Gay Rights, Social Justus, Anti -death penalty, the peace movement or any other Leftist policy follows the same model.

    Lots more on this if you are interested.

  8. JohnMac: Thanks for listening to the show...You are of course right in the worldview of liberals vs. Conservatives. (The slogan "I am not a victim" capsulizes the conservative view perfectly.)

    DaVincis: Thank you for the compliments...love it!

    tj: It's about erasing distinctions between male and female--two men together is not at all the same as a man and woman. Given that gays in most places now can have civil union with the same "rights" as marriages, why do they need to eliminate the only word for a unique union of opposites?

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