Information about The Lifestyle Poll

The idea of launching The Lifestyle Poll project arose during one of many walks with my husband. In addition to my intrinsic interest in women's issues, when I was conceptualizing this project, I thought about the "tradition of remarkable women" at Harvard-Radcliffe and the many amazing women I have met in my life after Harvard. To test my theory that respect is equally critical for many women as for many men, I set out to profile the marriages of some of the smartest women I have known and their equally capable friends. Equipped with a budget of less than $500 for internet hosting and data collection, I had to get creative. I had been teaching a course in Personal Growth through the University of Florida for several consecutive semesters. Based on my strong interest in personal growth and my belief in the value of self-examination, I specifically designed The Lifestyle Poll to operate simultaneously as a data collection tool and as a stimulus for the personal growth of my research participants.
I assembled more than 200 questions and recruited participants primarily through unofficial networks of Harvard graduates. Word of the project spread organically through word of mouth and invitations between friends. My goal was to see if I could get 500 respondents (which is generally a large sample size for social science research) within one year. In fewer than eight months, more than 1200 women had completed all 200 questions on The Lifestyle Poll.
When I ran the data, I was surprised to learn that within the Lifestyle Poll sample, there was a 6% divorce rate (for comparison, 50% of first marriages, and 63% of remarriages, end in divorce within the United States). This was not accounted for by the “honeymoon effect” since the average length of relationships in my sample was more than 7 years. Moreover, the divorce rate of parents of Lifestyle Poll sample participants was 20%, also substantially lower than the national average.

Marriage, for Equals: The Successful Joint (Ad) Ventures of Well-educated Couples is in large part an analysis of this data and the compelling personal stories revealed by the women who participated in The Lifestyle Poll. The wisdom they shared clarified theories I had studied for many years in graduate school and brought a wealth of new insights about how we can build and maintain strong, mutually satisfying relationships.

If you participated in The Lifestyle Poll, I wish to very sincerely express my gratitude. My work on this project, although temporarily suspended for periods of time, has nonetheless been one of my most rewarding professional experiences to date. In returning to your stories and the wisdom they hold, I am hopeful that your insights will greatly benefit others who are striving to fulfill the promise of a marriage of equals.

Marriage, for Equals: The Successful Joint (Ad)Ventures of Well-educated Couples