How to create a long lasting marriage
Mary Gosche, Human Development Specialist, Cape Girardeau County and Southeast Region, University of Missouri Extension
June is a month for weddings and a time for reflection on one's own marriage relationship. Marriage continues to be an important goal for Americans. In fact, over 90 percent of adults will get married at least once in their lifetime.
About half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. So it is obvious that many people do not get married and live “happily ever after.” Most couples start out full of hopes and dreams and are truly committed to making their marriage work. All marriages change over time. But with hard work and dedication, people can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable.
According to Maggie Gallagher, Director of the Marriage Program at the Institute for American Values, and Linda Waite, a University of Chicago family scholar, “a decade of research has yielded solid, scientific evidence: marriage has powerful, positive, transformative effects on both the adults and their children.”
Gallagher and Waite show that comparing the marriage bargain to the cohabitation deal, that getting married actually transforms individuals and relationships in ways that make adults better off, and children safer, happier and healthier. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Characteristics of happy and satisfying marriages:
- Positivity – being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other's achievements and being playful
- Empathy – understanding a person's perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes
- Commitment – investing in the marriage and being willing to sacrifice some of your own preferences for the good of the relationship
- Acceptance – feeling respected and sharing common values
- Mutual love and respect – perhaps the most important component, it is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives
When was the last time you and your spouse talked, held hands, worked on a mutual project together or planned little surprises for each other? Friendship is a key component in a marriage relationship. There are many things spouses can do to keep their friendship alive. Weekly dates, kissing each other goodbye in the morning, saying “I love you,” laughing together and complimenting each other are just a few ways to share enjoyable times together.
So what are the benefits of getting and staying married? A person substantially cuts their risk of early death and debilitating illness. Your bank account gets a boost as higher earnings and better management lead to more wealth than the unmarried. Plus, your sex life has the special zing only true love and lifelong commitment seems to add.
For more information and ideas on marital communication and skills in handling conflict, see the MU Extension publication Creating a Strong and Satisfying Marriage (GH6610).
Last Updated 06/04/2015