Who Else Wants a Great Marriage?

We’ve heard the statistics all of our lives. The divorce rate is 50% and rising. The institution of Marriage is in trouble. The great American family is a thing of the past.

Not So Fast

Come to find out, that argument is really just a long standing myth that refuses to die. In fact, there is really great news regarding marriage. The divorce rate is actually falling and has been for some time. According to research spelled out in a 2014 NY Times Article “The divorce rate peaked in the 1970’s and early 80’s and has been declining for the three decades since.” In fact, the article reports that 70% of marriages that began in the 90’s reached their 15the anniversary. Further, the evidence shows that couples married in the 2000’s are divorcing at an even lower rate.

So What Accounts for the Falling Divorce Rate?

The Times Article concludes at people are getting married later in life, which often means that they are more financially stable. It probably means they are a bit more mature as well. The Times story also notes another interesting statistic: Women file for the majority of divorces (about two-thirds). Economic independence makes it easier for women to leave a marriage. But there might be another, simpler reason: "Married men are happier than married women.”

Let’s Take a Closer Look

Sociologists Karyn Loscocco and Susan Walzer in Gender and the Culture of Heterosexual Marriage in the United States attempt to explain the high rate of divorce in the U.S. Their research suggests that there is an incredible awareness of gender roles and how a wife and a husband "should" act. And that continues to drive "contemporary heterosexual marriage and its discontents.”

They site studies pointing out that:
  • Women are less happy in their marriages than men
  • Women are more likely than men to see problems in their marriages
  • Women are more likely to initiate divorce (women ask for divorce two-thirds of the time), and are more than three times as likely as their former husbands to have strongly desired the divorce
  • Once-married men are more likely to say that they want to marry again than are once-married women.
The Lopsided Equation

So Why are some women so unhappy in their relationship? It, turns out that their are variety of reasons.
  • Wives tend to be in charge of the emotional care taking which can be exhausting
  • Wives tend to be in charge of family planning, organizing and structuring of family life - These roles often go unnoticed
  • Some wives don’t do well with conflict. The husband is happy because he always gets what he wants and the wife doesn’t complain. However, over time the lopsided equation can lead to feelings of being unloved.
  • Wives often receive the message that if they just worked hard enough they could save the marriage. Yet studies show that when husbands take greater ownership of the emotional work -- beyond just household chores and child care wives are healthier and happier.
So it sounds like men have got some work to do. Namely, be emotionally supportive of their wives and their families; notice the logistical work the wife does and even pitch in to help; make a plan to regularly attend to the wives needs and desires to avoid the lopsided equation.
What About the Man
  • Men are insecure and often feel like they are not making the grade. They desperately need to feel respected by their wives. Often their anger is in response to feeling disrespected by their wives.
  • Much as women feel the burden of being the emotional support for the family, men feel the burden of being the provider.
  • Men want more sex with their wives. They need to feel desired by their wives. when they feel rejected, they feel like they are being judged a failure as a husband and provider.
  • Men love their wives and often feel unable to express it adequately.
Predictors of Marital Success
A recent study by the University of Virginia evaluated 3000 men and women to better understand what makes marriages work. They discovered the top 5 things that both men and women agree bring happiness to your marriage:
  • Above average sexual satisfaction - Couples with a better sex life are happier in their marriage 
  • Above average commitment - Couples who are both committed to their marriage are happier
  • Above average generosity to your spouse - Couples who serve their spouse, offer frequent display of affection and are always ready to forgive are happier couples.
  • Above average attitude towards raising children - spending time with family strengthens marital bonds and makes for a happier marriage
  • Supportive friends and family - friends and family who support your family and the institution of marriage leads to stronger marital bonds and happier marriages
Tonight, give your spouse a long, warm hug when you/they return from work
Hide a note that just says “I Love You” where they are sure to find it
Practice saying “Thank you.”
Try to thank your spouse 10 time each day for the next week.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to continue the journey, read “The Early Warning Signs of a Stale Marriage” or download our free e-book entitled “Sex.Love. Happiness.