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Where Is The Truth In New Zealand Marriage?

A new study into the state of New Zealand marriage has shown that a quarter of New Zealand’s wives has woken up wishing they weren't married.

And when it comes to telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a marriage, New Zealanders are less honest than their Aussie counterparts, according to the annual Reader's Digest marriage index.* Forty-six per cent of husbands and 43% of wives said they had kept a secret from their spouse. This is higher than for married couples in either Australia or the USA.

The Reader's Digest marriage index is a new annual study conducted and reported in many of the 48 editions of Reader's Digest magazine around the world.

"These global findings mean we can not only look at the unique status of New Zealand marriage, but we can compare the state of our marriages to those in other countries," said Reader's Digest Managing Editor, Siobhan McMahon-Smith.

Sharing dreams? When asked about sharing fantasies or aspirations, 27% of the Reader's Digest survey respondents said they cherished a secret dream but did not talk about it with the spouse. This was in stark contrast to Australia where only 16% have not shared their innermost ambitions. Those who are least inclined to share their hopes and dreams with their partners are women aged 35 to 39, and men over 65.

Some of the poll's greatest surprises arise from the conversations married people wish they could have - especially husbands. The Reader's Digest poll shows that men are actually bursting to talk about matters deeper than sport or their work. Among men, 35% said they wished they could talk to their wife about their sex life. This is also the topic that 31% of women also would like to broach with their partners. Those fretting most about this "touchy" subject are men married less than five years (38%), those who live in the South Island (41%), and men and women over 65 (50 and 40% respectively).

So what are our most kept secrets? The Reader's Digest poll showed it was what we paid for something we bought. This sin of omission is committed by 40% of New Zealand wives and 30% of husbands.

The second most frequent secret is about a child's performance at school with 11% of wives keeping this from their husbands. Sadly, 11% of men have concealed failure at work from their spouse. Startlingly, 3% of New Zealand men have kept a secret about an eating disorder and another 3% have hidden an alcohol, drug or gambling problem.

* The telephone poll was conducted by independent research company MRA on behalf of the New Zealand edition of Reader's Digest. The respondents were 405 married people - half of them men and half of them women - spread across both the north and south islands. Spouses were not interviewed together, nor in earshot of each other.


26 November 2001

Key findings

How honest are couples, really?

Reader’s Digest surveyed 400 married men and women in New Zealand by telephone to
determine their views on marriage.

New Zealand/Australian Comparisons
NZ men Aussie men NZ women Aussie women

Keep secrets from their spouse
NZ men 46%
Aussie men 43%
NZ women 43%
Aussie women 41%

Woken up wishing they weren't married
NZ men 18%
Aussie men 17%
NZ women 26%
Aussie women 20%

Who is more argumentative?
NZ men 14%
Aussie men 15%
NZ women 18%
Aussie women 24%

How many haven't shared dreams?
NZ men 24%
Aussie men 16%
NZ women 30%
Aussie women 15%

Wish they could talk more about sex
NZ men 35%
Aussie men 29%
NZ women 31%
Aussie women 21%

Talking Points

What couples are not talking about
There are lots of things that couples just aren’t talking about, but wish they could. One of the most surprising findings is that nearly one third of men wish they could ask their spouse to be more affectionate. About the same proportion of women wish their husbands would ask questions about them; just notice them really. And about a quarter of couples wish they could talk about having more fun.

What are our most-kept secrets?
Forty six per cent of men and 43 per cent of women have kept something secret from their spouse. The number one best-kept secret between New Zealand couples is how much was paid for something. Other secrets include a child’s behaviour or school results (more frequent for women) and concealing failure at work (more common for men).

Do couples share their dreams?
Twenty seven per cent of Kiwi couples cherish a secret dream they don’t share with their spouse (compared with 16% of Aussie couples and 20% of US couples). Secret desires include owning a dog, travelling with their spouse and living somewhere else.

* The telephone poll was conducted by independent research company MRA on behalf of the New Zealand edition of Reader's Digest. The respondents were 405 married people - half of them men and half of them women - spread across both the north and south islands. Spouses were not interviewed together, nor in earshot of each other.

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