In 1986, we began the Early Years of Marriage Study (EYM) at the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center. We interviewed people in the Detroit Metropolitan Area in the first year of marriage, and in many cases, in subsequent years as well. We just finished our 18th year of the project. We have long-term information on over 740 individuals! The respondents in our study are White American and Black American individuals who all married in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
This study has become one of the most important surveys on marriage and family life. We continue to analyze the information we have collected in previous interviews, while at the same time plan for future interviews.
What Can EYM Tell Us About Marriage And Divorce?
By looking at what people told us about their lives together, we are able to see what early adjustments contribute to a stable or happy marriage. In addition, as we interview divorced individuals about their lives, we can begin to look at adjustment and coping to divorce. What factors predict better adjustment and well being after divorce?
We also have been exploring the influence of children, the economy, women's work outside the home, in-laws, courtship patterns, conflict and love on marriages. Many of our respondents had children by the third year of marriage. The birth of a child or additional children raises new issues and concerns. In spite of the burdens and responsibilities that children may bring, they also became a source of fulfillment. Further, today more than ever, married couples must have two wage earners in the family to survive or be comfortably situated. When both husband and wife work, this may create additional issues for the couple to confront. In particular, it raises challenges for many about who does what around the house. We find that women's employment outside the home is not as problematic as was once thought, although it often depends on whether women work outside the home mostly for the money or for the satisfaction that working may bring. These are just a few of the many topics and issues that we have explored using the data from the Early Years of Marriage Project.
There have been many articles, chapters and books published using information from the Early Years of Marriage Project. Please visit our publications page to see those references. Many of you know that there have been two books published from the findings of this study. The first is Marital Instability, published by Greenwood Press. It describes many factors that influence the stability of marriages in the early years. The second book, Thrice Told Tales: Married Couples Tell Their Stories, was published by Lawrence Erlbaum Publishing. This book looks at the stories married couples told about their marriages in Year 1-7. The third book (forthcoming by Random House, in fall 2009) is a compilation of the entire project and looks at how to be happy in your marriage.
Previous Study Respondents: Click here