In last week's blog we talked about why marriage is important from a societal perspective, and examined the many benefits that married couples have over their single counterparts, including being healthier and living longer among other things.
This week we'll take a look at how you can ensure that your marriage is an enduring one by sharing our four key ingredients for a happy marriage with you.
To understand precisely what the risks are, let's look at the risk factors for your marriage according to marriage stats from 2015:
- In South Africa, 1 in 5 marriages end in divorce.
- Half of all failed marriages last 9 years or less.
- The most common reasons for divorce are:
- Financial problems;
- Abuse; and
- Substance abuse.
In short then, all you have to do to make your marriage work then is:
- earn enough money;
- make it past 9 years;
- don't get addicted to any substances;
- don't abuse your spouse; and
- don't cheat.
Simple. Right? Not quite.
Although these were the boiled down versions of why people got divorced, there were most often back stories to every divorce. Back stories that led some spouses to alcohol or drug abuse, or to adultery, or to become economically unstable. (Aside: There is no excuse for abuse - you're just a douchebag if you do it.)
What we realised is that divorce is never a cut and dry situation, and can almost never be attributed to a single disasterous event alone. Most often marriages fail as a result of a chain of smaller failures from one or both spouses that leads to catastrophe.
So what can you do to make sure that you don't end up divorced?
Well to answer that, here are our four key ingredients for a happy marriage.
1. Pick the right partner.
We all have that friend who got married to the wrong partner. Everybody can see that they're just not right for each other, and you're waiting on them to tell you that they're getting a divorce.
Maybe they get divorced, maybe they don't, but like anything, it's important to lay the foundation for your marriage as solidly as possible by choosing the right person to be with.
Marriage should be a celebration of love, and what that feels like is different for everybody. Choose a partner who shares your attraction, your emotions and your mannerisms. Pick someone who finishes your sentences and who shares in your hopes an dreams in earnest.
Settling for a partner because of money or sex or whatever is going to lead to tears. Your partner should be an extension of you and vice versa. If something feels off - run.
2. Focus on the positive.
Studies show that the more focused couples are on the positives in their lives, and the more kindness they exhibit towards their spouse, the more likely they are to stay together. In fact couples who were positive and kind 70% of the time or more were the ones who went on to have happy lifetime marriages.
Positivity and kindness go a long way to helping spouses feel fulfilled in their marriage, and that comes down to both spouses feeling accepted and needed in their relationship.
Instead of screaming and shouting when your husband accidentally spills his beer all over your dress, rather laugh and say ' That's ok babe, I realise it was just a mistake. Besides, this stain makes my dress look better.'
Look on the bright side instead of being negative and nasty.
This one may sound a little weird, we know, but studies show that spouses that do more housework together tend to stay together.
Here's the theory behind it - When a husband gets more domestic, his wife subconsciously finds him more attractive so they have more sex. Sex with their wives makes husbands feel needed and more attracted to their wives, so both parties win.
It's all primal - subconsciously if a wife feels that her nest is an appropriate place for children, she is more attracted to the man who helped build that nest, and they have sex. And we all know guys just love sex.
4. Sex. Lots of sex.
This should come as no surprise to anyone. The more sex you're having as a married couple, the better your relationship is. It's directly proportional.
Sex brings about a sense of well being because of a chemical called oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as 'the love hormone', because it makes you feel good, and research suggests that a regular dose of oxytocin can help your marriage endure.
Psychologically, if you're having loads of sex it means that you and your partner are attracted to each other, and that means you're doing something right. So keep at it you two!
In short, if you're with the right person from the start, are positive and kind towards each other, do housework together and make love all the time, you're on the path to marriage greatness.
If you find that you or your partner are snappy towards each other, you aren't having much fun in the bedroom, have a messy house and you feel off about him or her, it may be time to evaluate you marriage to try and fix things.
Don't give up easily though. Marriage can be a wonderful thing, and it will help you live longer if nothing else.
Until next week.