We all hear lots of yackity-yack about the divorce rate today, but the reality is that the divorce rate has been declining since it’s peak in the 1980’s. (Yay! Back then it was at 50 percent and today it’s down to 41 percent.) So….are we getting better are relationships and commitment? Are we less selfish and shallow? Or, are parents modeling better marriages? Who knows…
But, a recent blog post on Discovery.com shared 10 things that research found that did predict relationship longevity:
- A Special Kind of Commitment. Couples that last, take active steps to make their marriage work even when the relationship isn’t going well. Sometimes, these steps may go against what they personally wanted, according to one study, but they took them for the good of the relationship.
- No Keeping Score. Marriages where one or both partner focused on keeping score of how many times their mate got their way have been shown not to last. When you’re in an argument, are you more concerned with who wins or are you more concerned with the strength of your relationship? The goal at the end of a battle should always be building and maintaining the foundation of a healthy marriage.
- Forgiveness Factor. Relationships where each partner accepted and forgave the other’s behavior tended to last a lot longer than marriages where couples were constantly trying to change the other’s behavior. Additionally, being able to let go after a fight instead of continuing to burn the flame of anger, also led to a happy marriage, according to Science Daily.
- From Romance to Partnership. Affection and love are certainly important at the start of a marriage but if there is too much emphasis on keeping the flame burning, that’s a recipe for disaster. Couples have to be able to make the transition from romantic relationship to working partnership. Passion fades but it’s the ability to maintain affection, respect, and similarities that really matter.
- Courtship Length. The length of the courtship is a really important, but not surprising indicator. You need to have entered into a marriage with no delusion as to who the person you’re marrying really is, according to Psychology Today.
- Your Happiness. Just because you’re happy, doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage is happy, but on the other hand, if you’re full of discontent, it can cause problems for your marriage. Couples who either let their own discontent spill over to their mate, or blame their mate for their discontent, are far more likely to get divorced.
- Conflict Resolution. The ability to communicate while in an argument is very important. It’s not the conflicts that come up, but how you react to them that matters. How you diffuse conflict without ignoring it, is really important to your marriage. A lack of understanding of your mate, can eventually lead to a loss of affection. It’s that loss of affection that’s even more of a harbinger of disaster in the end.
- Showing the Real You. Couples that feel their mates are the only one that truly understands them tend to last. Most of us have that feeling at first, but it begins to subside if you don’t cultivate it. You should be able to disclose all your weird quirks to your partner without fear of reprisal.
- Money Fights. One study found that couples that fought about money once a week were 30 percent more likely to get divorced. Do everything that you can to avoid fighting about money – i.e. don’t live beyond your means.
- Age Gaps. Interestingly, age gaps result in a larger rate of divorce, according to the Daily Beast. This is especially true if one of you was divorced before your current marriage. Age gaps are particularly trying for your relationship’s intimacy.
What other things do you think predict the success of a relationship commitment? How important do you think it is to take marriage seriously?
Photo credit: Juan Antonio Capó’s Flickr photostream