A new study from the Pew Research Center recently revealed marriage rates are at an all-time low, and now we may have one reason for it: people are afraid of getting divorced.

Researchers from the University of Central Oklahoma and Cornell University conducted surveys with co-habitating but unmarried couples and asked them about their thoughts and plans for marriage. Of those who expressed trepidation about tying the knot, 67 percent cited the various “consequences of divorce” as the basis for those fears.

Economic status also came into play, since working-class women in particular were twice as likely as middle-class women to admit they were afraid of getting stuck in marriage with no way out if they were relying on a partner’s income to pay the bills.

“Respondents expressed concerns about the legal, financial, social, and/or emotional consequences of leaving a marriage, not to mention the consequences of divorce for children,” the authors wrote in the December 2011 issue of the journal Family Relations. “For these respondents, these potential pitfalls of divorce made them question whether marriage itself was worth it.”

Some women also felt marriage would require them to take on extra household duties to fulfill the societal “expectations” for a wife.

But it wasn’t all about money and chores — people also wanted to be sure they’d chosen the right partner. Some had religious beliefs dictating divorce isn’t an option, while others just felt they weren’t ready for such a big commitment yet.

“The most common refrain among our respondents was their strong desire to ensure that when they wed, they ‘did it right’ and only married once,” the study authors said, perhaps proving once and for all that romance can have an inherently practical side, too.

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