Who Needs Marriage? Men, Apparently

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Men, the stereotype goes, are dragged to the altar, fingernails clawing the floor of the church aisle into splinters until the very last step. There may be some truth to that, but once the marriage is underway, the shoe seems to migrate pretty quickly to the other foot.

Buried in the statistics of a new Pew survey, which informed TIME’s current cover story, are a bunch of interesting numbers about how men feel about marriage. And on the whole, guys seem to be fonder of the institution into which they were allegedly drafted than women. (More on Can an iPhone App Save Your Marriage?)

For example, 38% of men say it’s easier for a married person to find happiness than a single person, while only 22% of women feel that way. (This doesn’t mean that 62% of men think it’s easier for a single person to find happiness, however; the biggest chunk think married and unmarried people have about an equal shot at happiness.) More men than women believe it’s easier for married people to raise children, get ahead in a career and be socially accepted. (Read TIME’s 2009 cover story, “Is There Hope for the American Marriage?“)

That’s regarding marriage in general, of course. Those men may simply be saying society generally accords higher status to married people than singletons. But when asked more personal questions, men were still more positive about life in a legal union. Twice as many divorced or widowed men (32%) than women in the same position (16%) say they want to get married again. (Again, that doesn’t mean all of the others said they didn’t want to get married again. There was a third choice: not sure. Roughly a third of men were in each category. More than half the women weren’t sure.) (More on 5 Little-Known Truths About American Sex Lives)

Even with all the changes in the structure of a marriage brought on by the rising economic independence of women, and all the vexation it has caused on the home front trying to figure out what those changes mean, most of the men surveyed (55%) said they had a closer relationship with their spouse than their parents did. Interestingly, only 46% of women felt the same way.

It may be that after all, men are just more romantic than women, with all the benefits and problems that brings with it: almost a third of the men surveyed believe that there is just one perfect match for every human. (And no, there’s no evidence their wives were in the room at the time.) Only a quarter of women felt that way.

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