Factors that Contributes to Health Marriages
Some factors contribute to healthy and prosperous marriages, and which all individuals need to pay close attention to such factors as communication, family, friends, equality, and finances. Olson & Olson (2000) identified ten categories that can predict strong marriages. They are ranked in order: communication, flexibility, closeness, personality issues, conflict resolution, sexual relationship, leisure activities, family and friends, financial management and spiritual beliefs. Without understanding these factors and applying them appropriately then we will not have healthy marriages. Billingsley et al. during their analysis of data gathered from the literature on successful marriages between 1953 and 2004, they found nine themes that were common throughout. These themes were: “permanence of relationship, love, sex, compatibility in personality, common interests, communication, decision-making, intimacy, and religion” (Vanover, 2015).
Equality plays a vital part in the marriage relationship and is a significant predictor of whether the couple stays together. Steil and Turetsky (1987) suggest that equality is most conducive to building an intimate relationship. The differences between the traditional and non-traditional couples were in their view about the gender role. Traditional couples consider the husband responsible for the management of family and nontraditional couples describe their relationships as a non-hierarchical and friendly. This finding confirmed the inconsistency theory that assumes couples report low marital quality and overall happiness if wives’ statuses are higher than their husbands’ (Gong, 2007). Also, the research undertaken by Mckenzie (2003) demonstrated that happy couples have friendly relationships.
Communication: All the couples who were interviewed emphasized that they have a healthy and harmonious relationship. Gottman (1994) suggests that the key to improving marriage is learning how to argue. The happy couples in this study indicated that after a disagreement and argument they ended the argument quickly and reached an agreement on that subject. It is clear that conflict is not always dangerous, and it is also evident that the conflict resolution strategies that couples employee which will help to determine marital satisfaction or healthy marriages. In a longitudinal study by McNulty (2008), it was identified that the couples, who have less aggressive behavior towards each other, would experience a longstanding marital life and high marital satisfaction and they are more generous towards others. Conflict is not unusual in the context of a marriage, and may even deliver long-term benefits, if handled in a particular manner. The way in which one deals with conflicts in the marital relationship will also determine marital satisfaction and also help to build a healthy marriage. (Gottman & Krokoff, 1989). This research emphasized this point as well and can claim that happy couples were generous towards each other and others. Good communication model creates high levels of accommodation and involves managing the expression of negative cognitions and emotions by not expressing them, or by responding in a positive or diplomatic fashion. Effective Communication is an essential aspect of building healthy marriages. One should not just talk but ensures that he/she communicates with each other. Effective communication also involves attentive listening and maintaining eye contact at different intervals. One must be reminded that there is verbal and non-verbal communication, both should be done in a way that complements the marriage relationship. "Say what you mean and mean what you say: Don’t say one thing and mean another, and don’t expect the Listener to be able to “read your mind.” As James 5:12 says, “…but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay….” Communicating clearly what was meant to be said, in the marital relationship is essential in building healthy marriages. One must never assume that your spouse understands and know what each other is trying to communicate.
Health marriages cannot be built on perception. Researchers have found that perception influences marital satisfaction (Mckenzie, 2003). Michalos (1986) created the ideal-real gap theory which proposed that discrepancies between what an individual perceives and what is ideal may affect satisfaction or happiness in marriages. That is, a listening ear, endorsement, compassion, sharing, and understanding can all contribute to a healthy marriage. A little humor in a heated conflict can be affective. “We found that the ability to use positive affect (such as humor or affection) during conflict is essential in predicting the future health of the relationship” (Driver and Gottman, 2004). In a paper on the predictors of marital stability among newly married couples, Gottman, Coan, Swanson, and Carrere (1998) reported that positive affect during the marital conflict was the only predictor of both marital stability and marital satisfaction six years after the wedding. In another longitudinal study of middle-aged and senior couples in first marriages, humor and affection were a characteristic of happily married, stable, older couples (Driver and Gottman, 2004). Prevailing marital theory contends that effective conflict resolution may be a path to increased positivity in the relationship. (Driver, and Gottman, 2004). Couples need to develop effective conflict resolution strategies that will help to build healthy marriages. There should be some level of compromising in all martial relation when dealing with conflicts.
Adaptability is another factor that also contributes to healthy marriages. Balswick made it clear that marriages with a capacity for adaptability endure well over time. Marriages that are built on adaptability is also open to changes that will occur during the lifetime of the marriage relationship. It must be noted that change is inevitable, the husband needs to understand that his wife would look the same [physically after having children. However, because of the level of adaptability, they are both able to adjust to the changes in their marriage and still have a healthy marriage.
Empowerment – It is essential that spouses empower each other. This can be difficult especially if they are coming from a family background that has never empowered them. Reminding a spouse of their worth will and can contribute to a healthy marriage.
Differentiation – There needs to be some level of differentiation from the family of origin and each other. Even though the bible states that two becomes one, there needs to be some level of differentiation. Spouses should never loose there self-identity, there should not be assimilation but rather accommodation. There must be some level of independence within the marriage relationship
Timing- There must be an understanding that timing is an essential aspect of the communication process in all relationships. Spouses need to identify the most appropriate time to deal with and talk about the issues that are affecting the marital relationship. It is very unlike to discuss specific topics around children and even around the dinner table. Which also brings up the issue of place. Choosing the appropriate time takes into account the needs of both spouses. It is also recommended that spouses ask the question of, 'is it possible for us to talk about somethings that are affecting the marriage?' This questioning technique clear gives each party the idea that something needs to discuss or gives the spouse the idea that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. This technique also shows respect for each others time and also demonstrating the desire to bring up a topic and honors your spouse by allowing him/her to be apart of the time selection period.
Giving – Giving is not only about physical and tangible gifts but also giving of themselves and time. It is vital to make particular time for spouse whether to sit and talk, do some of the things that each other like together. It does not necessarily mean the things that both like but also the things that one do not like, but the other partner likes and enjoys it. Giving of yourself is very important when building a healthy marriage.
Continuous dating - This I believe will help build a healthy marriage. This can be extremely difficult especially when children are involved, but spouses should try their best to continue dating, go out and dine together. It should not be that couples stop doing what they use to do during courtship.
Research into relationship satisfaction and building healthy marriages revealed many associated factors. First, some demographic factors seem to be involved. A study by Jose and Alfons (2007) revealed that “women tend to be less satisfied then men, and couples without children are more satisfied than those with children. Furthermore, marital satisfaction seems to be affected by such factors as religiosity, education, the number of previous marriages, and parental marital history (Vanover, 2016). It is clear that many factors can contribute to marital satisfaction and healthy marriages. However, it depends on the parties involved in the union. There are a set of skills that are conducive to relationship satisfaction; these skills include communication skills, problem-solving skill, conflict resolution skills, mutual disclosure, emotion skills, and appreciation for partners’ efforts (Legkauskas, 2008). Research also shows that significant factors contribute to healthy marriages such as quality communication, and quality time spent together by the married couple. There are also many factors that will contribute to health marriages for some persons, while it will not be of any benefit to someone else. The list of factors that contribute to health marriages is not a one size fits all. While there were many factors that both contributed to healthy marriages. They are some factors that were more effective and less effective when building healthy marriages. However, it must be noted that all factors are important, it does not matter how weak or irrelevant they might seem. Some researchers concluded that forgiveness, empathy, compromise, intentionality, and respect, are all important and play a vital part in building healthy marriages. It is also important to remember that marriages are best suited for success when the individuals spend time together, communicate effectively, and are supported by those around them. With all of the factors present, it is essential to see the two become one, but are still independently.
Here are some recommended strategies individuals can use to minimize the risks of divorce and increase marital stability and also develop a healthy marriage.
- Wait until at least your 20s to marry. Avoid marrying as a teenager.
- Don't marry out of duty to a child. Avoid marrying just because she got pregnant. Pregnancy is not a mate-selection process we discussed in the pairing-off chapter.
- Become proactive by maintaining your marriage with preventative efforts designed to avoid breakdowns. Find books, seminars, and a therapist to help you both work out the tough issues.
- Never cohabit if you think you might marry.
- Once married, leave the marriage market -- avoid keeping an eye open for a better spouse.
- Remain committed to your marriage. Most couples have irreconcilable differences and most learn to live comfortably together in spite of them.
- Keep a positive outlook. Avoid losing hope in your first 36 months -- those who get past the three-year mark often see improvements in quality of marital relationship, and the first 36 months have the most intense adjustments in them.
- Take the media with a grain of salt. Avoid accepting evidences that your marriage is doomed -- this means being careful not to let accurate or inaccurate statistics convince you that all is lost, especially before you even marry.
- Do your homework when selecting a mate. Take your time and realize that marrying in your late 20s is common now and carefully identify someone who is homogeneous to you, especially about wanting to be married.
- Focus on the positive benefits found to be associated with being married in society while learning to overlook some of the downsides.
Balswick, J. O., & Balswick, J. K. (2014). The family: A Christian perspective on the contemporary home. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Bloem, R. (2013). Children negative effects of divorce. Retrieved April 8, 2018, from http://www.children-and-divorce.com/children-negative-effects-of-divorce.html
Derichs, J. (2014). The-impact-of-divorce-part-I. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from http://www.jbdcounseling.com/The-Impact-of-Divorce-Part-I.html
Driver, J. L., & Gottman, J. M. (2004). Daily marital interactions and positive affect during marital conflict among newlywed couples. Retrieved April 29, 2018 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3cf9/5aa0c00a5ef3904677da503725a507e7d438.pdf
Gottman, J.M. (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Gottman, J. M., Coan, J., Carrere, S., & Swanson, C. (1998). Predicting marital happiness and stability from newlywed interactions. Journal of Marriage & Family, 60(1), 5-22. Retrieved April 29, 2018 from https://public.psych.iastate.edu/ccutrona/psych592a/articles/Predicting%20marital%
Legkauskas, V., Effects of Premarital Cohabitation on Relationship Satisfaction and Stability of Cohabiting and Married Couples. Vytautas Magnus University, retrieved April 18, from http://etalpykla.lituanistikadb.lt/fedora/objects
Vanover, B., (2016) "Important Factors in Marital Success and Satisfaction: Marriage Counselors’ Perspectives" Master of Social Work Clinical Research Papers.Paper 685. retrieved April 13, 2018 from http://sophia.stkate.edu/msw_papers/685