Americans: What's the single most important factor in deciding marriage?

I’m doing some work in cultural communication, and this topic came up.

If your culture isn’t American, please vote in the “non-american” categories.


Pretty limited poll. Maybe add Money, Convienance, bar bets?

I’m pretty sure “love” will outnumber everything else.

I voted Alien.

By itself, love just isn’t enough. Respect and a mutual agreement on goals and ethics plus the ability to get along are a lot. You can love someone and not get along with them.

Love is the single most important, but by no means the only factor. A close second is general compatibility in goals and lifestyle and outlook (and sanity…way too many people marry people who turn out to be insane). Love is the easy part, but you aren’t going to make it to the gritty details without love.

I was going to say, compatibility. :: shakes fist at Renee ::

Did not vote, choices too limited.

The choices aren’t limited at all. Anything other than love falls into the “something other than love” category.

It is limited and weird poll if you are “non-American”.

Yeah non-americans would need to wait a few hours i think.

But if it helps, I’m expecting ~95% to pick love.

Yeah, not being American do I have to wait to see the results of the poll and then vote whether I agree with the results? I’m confused at to what I’m supposed to do.

To restate the poll options:

Does your culture think that love is the most important to decide marriage?

We should all find someone we like whom we also believe will be able to put up with all our crap.

My culture includes a wildly disparate collection of people, each of whom is different. I could only possibly answer for myself.

Other problems with this poll: are you talking about establishing a marriage, picking a partner, or are you talking about sustaining a marriage long term? Are you talking about what is, or what should be, according to our cultural teachings?

I think love is probably the most overwhelming influence on Americans beginning a marriage (although I don’t consider that a good thing), but for sustaining a marriage, I think mutual respect is by far the greater factor, and can be present with or without love.

So I voted other, but I think if you’re seriously doing this for some sort of work, you need to think about what you really want to know and formulate some better questions.

Oh, well then yes, when you put it that way, although if you asked several thousand people to define ‘love’, you’d get several thousand different answers.


First, I didn’t understand what you mean by “factor in deciding marriage”: Factor in deciding whom to marry? Factor in deciding whether to marry the particular person you’re currently involved with? Factor in deciding whether to marry as a general life goal? Or are you talking about the most important factor determining whether a marriage will succeed, or whether it would be considered successful?

Second, since so many people mean so many different things by “love,” not everybody’s going to be answering the same question. (e.g. some people will be thinking of eros, some philia, some agape.)

Initial decision to marry.

Whatever an individual person’s definition is, you can still answer this poll.

Whether you marry a particular person you are currently involved with.

Whatever definition you use is fine.

This question and the choices are bizarrely written. How can I vote “Non-American: The results are completely different from my culture” before I’ve seen the results?

You can consider those questions to be “in my culture, love is the most important factor in deciding to marry: yes/no.”