Purpose of the Study
Deeply understand millennial relationship habits and openness to couples counseling. This study explores: 1) how individuals are thinking about having the “hard conversations” with their partners, 2) how relationships changed during the course of COVID-19, 3) how relationship health impacts mental health and 4) interest in, barriers to, and perceptions of couples counseling.
- The majority of individuals (89%) believe that relationship health is one of the most important factors for their mental and emotional health
- A little over half (59%) of the respondents believe that the stigma around therapy is decreasing; for those who have attended therapy, 77% of respondents said that they had talked to a friend (beside their partner) about attending couples counseling or their desire to attend couples counseling
- Most individuals (89%) believe that there would be value in going to couple’s counseling sessions (84% said that they believe healthy relationships would benefit), yet only 35% of individuals indicated that they have attended couples counseling
- Looking specifically at premarital counseling, 36% of married (or long-term committed partnership) couples attend some form of counseling prior to marriage; for those not yet married, 45% of couples plan to attend some form of premarital counseling
- The majority of individuals (71%), female and male, wish that they had more information on how to talk about conflict and other big relationship topics with their partner
- Relationships were impacted differently during COVID (e.g., some felt it brought them closer together, others apart, and some a bit of both), but most (74%) agreed that COVID highlighted the importance of investing in their relationships and led them to be more intentional about their relationship health
- The main barriers to going to therapy are cost, finding the right therapist, and getting their partner to go; there are some differences across genders with the barriers with females being more likely than their male counterparts to identify cost and getting their partner to go as barriers, while males are more likely than their female counterparts to say that the stigma of therapy / counseling is a barrier
Having the “Hard Conversations”
When it comes to “hard conversations” (e.g., finances, children, household roles, etc.) and conflict, the goal was to understand if couples felt that they had the resources they needed to successfully navigate these situations. When asked how much they agreed with the statement “My partner and I wish we had more information on how to talk about conflict and other big relationship topics,” 71% of the population somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement. Both females and males agreed with this statement with 68% of females and 73% of males agreeing. 13% of the population disagreed with this statement and 17% of the population was neutral.
COVID-19 Impact on Relationships
When asked what effect COVID had on their relationships, 38% of the population said it brought them closer together, 11% of the population said that it pushed them apart, 21% of the population said a little bit of both (both brought them closer together and pushed them apart), and 21% of the population said that there was no impact.
This holds across both female and male populations. 36% of females said it brought them closer together, 8% of females said that it pushed them apart, 34% of females said a little bit of both (both brought them closer together and pushed them apart), and 22% of females said that there was no impact. 40% of males said it brought them closer together, 13% of males said that it pushed them apart, 26% of males said a little bit of both (both brought them closer together and pushed them apart), and 20% of males said that there was no impact.
Despite the mixed responses as to the impact that COVID had on their relationships, it was clear that COVID highlighted the importance of investing in relationships / relationship health. 74% of the survey respondents agreed with the statement “COVID highlighted the importance of investing in our relationship and led us to be more intentional with our relationship health.” Both men and women alike agreed with this statement, with men tending to agree at a higher rate than women - 79% of male and 68% of female respondents agreed with this statement. Only 6% of the population disagreed with this statement and 20% of the population was neutral.
Relationship Health Impacts on Mental Health
Respondents agree that relationship health is one of the most important factors of their mental and emotional health. When asked how much they agreed with the statement “Relationship health, the health of my relationships is one of the most important factors for my mental and emotional health,” 89% of the population somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement. Both females and males agreed with this statement with 90% of females and 87% of males agreeing. Only 2% of the population disagreed with this statement (0% strongly disagreed) and 9% of the population was neutral.
Interest in, Barriers to, and Perceptions of Couples Counseling
Interest in Couples Counseling
89% of survey respondents said yes when asked if they thought there was value in going to couples counseling (88% of females and 90% of males said yes). When asked if they believed that healthy relationships would benefit from going to couples counseling before anything is wrong (kind of like an annual check-up or going to the gym), 84% of survey respondents said yes (85% of females and 84% of males said yes). When asked if they would be interested in doing couples counseling (including premarital counseling), 70% of the population (68% of females and 71% of males) said that they would be somewhat or very interested.
While there is general agreement that there is value in couples counseling and interest in couples counseling is high, the incidence of those who have been to couples counseling (including premarital counseling) is 35%. When looking specifically at premarital counseling, of those who are married or in a long-term committed partnership, 36% of them attended some form of premarital counseling. Of those who are not married, less than half (45%) of the population has the intention of attending some sort of premarital counseling.
Barriers to Couples Counseling
When asked to select all the barriers that are keeping them from couples counseling, the general population said that cost (55%), finding the right therapist (50%), and convincing their partner to go (38%) were the biggest barriers [other answer options were logistics / lack of time (36%), stigma around therapy / counseling (32%), don’t know how it works (17%), and none of the above (7%)].
When looking at differences in barriers across the genders, we see there being different opinions on the barriers of cost, convincing their partner to go, and stigma around therapy. Females are more likely to identify cost as a barrier with 60% of females and 49% of males identifying this as a barrier. Females are also more likely to identify convincing their partner to go as a barrier with 47% of females and 30% of males identifying this as a barrier. Males are more likely to say that the stigma around therapy / counseling is a barrier, with 38% of males and 26% of females indicating that this is a barrier for them attending counseling.
Perceptions of Couples Counseling
52% of individuals said yes when asked if they have talked with a friend (beside their partner) about their couples counseling or desire to go to couples counseling (51% of female and 54% of male respondents said yes). Looking at just individuals who have attended couples counseling, 77% of respondents say they have talked to a friend (besides their partner) about their couples counseling or desire to go to couples counseling.
When asked how much they agreed with the statement “The stigma around couples counseling is decreasing,” 59% of the population somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement. This was relatively consistent across females and males with 58% of females and 60% of males agreeing. 9% of the population disagreed with this statement and 32% of the population was neutral.
Sample Composition and Size
Participants were sourced through Cint (see more details in the ‘About Cint’ section). Participants were ages 26-40, from the United States, and self-identified as being in a relationship. The survey sample was census balanced across the age range and across the geographic regions within the United States.
Total survey respondents totaled 539. The survey was fielded and completed in April 2022. Of the 539 respondents, 401 of the respondents identified as female, 134 of the respondents identified as male, and 4 of the respondents identified as third gender / non-binary. For the census-balanced results for gender, responses from male population and female population were weighted 51% male / 49% female based on the Statistics Times data for United States male and female population for the age group 25-39 (referred to throughout as “population”). Given the size of the sample (particularly for the male responses), results should be taken as directional for the total population.
Of the respondents, 67% were married or were in long-term committed partnerships, 7% were engaged, 18% were dating seriously (living together), 4% were dating seriously (not living together), and 3% were casually dating. 83% of respondents identified as being heterosexual.
The panels that are integrated into the Cint platform/make up the Cint sample ecosystem are carefully selected and vetted supplemental permission-based sample sources. Those panel partners source participants/panelists through a variety of methods in order to help build diverse, representative, engaged panel communities. Over time, each panel builds more and more detailed profiling points on each individual, and the Cint platform uses this deep information to facilitate matching the right active, engaged participants/panelists with the right surveys.
Some of the recruitment methods used by panel partners include: Online recruitment through the owner’s portal which includes: (1) brand communities and (2) digital media and publisher sources; email recruitment through a panel owner’s newsletters; specific invitations sent to a panel owner’s database; email recruitment using a permission-based database; social networks; loyalty websites; affiliate traffic; telephone-based recruitment; and face-to-face (F2F) based recruitment.
All participants/panelists available through the Cint platform are subjected to comprehensive quality checks to ensure clients get the highest quality outcomes.
About Arch Insights
Arch Insights, LLC. is a consumer insights firm focused on providing clients with more efficient and effective consumer insights. Research protocols are built from years of experience in consumer insights, brand building, consulting, and industry research. Founder’s experience includes Bain & Company, Harry’s Inc., Torch Capital, and Harvard Business School. For more information, visit archinsights.co.