Why Some Marriages Last
For half of first marriages, and 60 percent of second marriages, the emotional trauma often connected with marital failure, the unmet needs of the children, and the negative financial consequences of divorce are insufficient reasons to keep an unhappy husband and wife together when one decides to bolt. A chief reason given for dissolving a marriage is an intolerable level of emotional alienation between spouses.
If the failure to meet your partner's emotional needs can destroy a marriage, what does the research have to say about how spouses go about securing a successful long-term marriage?
In their book, The Second Half of Marriage, couples workshop leaders David and Claudia Arps report the fascinating results of a written survey they conducted with 500 married men and women about what makes a marriage work beyond the critical seven-year mark.
Among all age groups, the factor given as having the greatest impact on continuing marital success was companionship. The majority of respondents (ages 30 to 70) also put “commitment” to the relationship, “love,” and “communication” in the top five of the eight most highly ranked aspects of a positive relationship.
Many more women are initiating divorces today than men, with most estimates putting the number of female-initiated divorces at two-thirds.
When asked to define those areas that contributed most frequently to marital difficulties, all age groups were again unanimous in listing “financial difficulties” first, while most age groups surveyed put sex as the second most challenging area of marriage. Only those respondents between 40 and 49 said sex was a highly positive factor contributing to marital success, and no age group gave “romance” a higher number than 10.
All the research on long-term marriage demonstrates an essential truth: marriage requires the nurturing by both partners of a committed, loving friendship. Both of you must also use positive communication to resolve conflicts as you strive to remain each other's closest companion.
Beyond these important, general truths, there are many specific challenges you can expect to greet you as your marriage moves past its twentieth anniversary. Fortunately, there are also some time-tested approaches and solutions that can help you and your partner successfully meet every married couple's desire to grow old together.