Articles for Married Couples

Everything listed under: marital quality

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    How Technology Use Impacts Faithfulness

    In July 2019, the 2019 State of our Unions: iFidelity: Interactive Technology and Relationship Faithfulness report revealed some interesting findings about marital health and relationship attitudes/behaviors, both online and in real life, in America.  

    According to the report, the internet has impacted our personal and professional lives in such a way that our definitions of romantic and sexual loyalty and commitment are changing. While most Americans still clearly oppose sexual unfaithfulness in marriage, younger adults are significantly more likely to engage in internet infidelity than older generations. 

    Researchers believe the weakening of marital and relationship boundaries matters, and the data in this report shows a generational divide in both behaviors and attitudes, with younger generations having weaker boundaries. Younger Americans are more likely to be unfaithful online, and it’s clear that relationship outcomes are markedly worse when iFidelity becomes i-Infidelity. 

    The report offers three key findings across all age groups.

    First, a majority of Americans in all generations express support for sexual fidelity in their relationships and report they are sexually faithful in real life. However, today’s young adults are more likely to cross online boundaries related to sex and romance. 

    Additionally, many online behaviors are rated by most Americans (70% or more) as “unfaithful” or “cheating.” This would include having a secret emotional relationship or sexting with someone other than a partner/spouse without the partner’s/spouse’s knowledge and consent. 

    The third finding can have a major impact on relationships if couples were to set and enforce online boundaries: Married and cohabiting couples who maintain strong online boundaries against potential sexual and romantic alternatives are more likely to be happy in their relationships. Currently married or cohabiting couples who blur those boundaries are significantly less happy, less committed and more likely to break up. On the other hand, couples who take a more careful stance online are happier, more committed and less likely to separate. 

    Here are some of the numbers:

    • 18% of millennial participants engaged in sexual talk online with someone besides their partner; only 3% of Greatest/Silent Generation participants (ages 75 and older), 6% of baby boomers and 16% of Gen Xers did so.
    • Only 18% of millennials think that electronic behaviors that blur romantic and sexual lines with others are inappropriate, compared to 26% of baby boomers.
    • Married and cohabiting people who did not follow a former girlfriend/boyfriend online had a 62% likelihood of reporting that they were “very happy” in their relationship, while only 46% of those who followed an old flame online reported being very happy.
    • Married and cohabiting Americans who break three or more romantic or sexual boundaries online are 26 percentage points less likely to be “very happy” in their real life relationship, compared to those who push none of those boundaries.

    The General Social Survey, a key source for the report, regularly gauges American attitudes and has asked the same questions regarding marital fidelity from 1998 to 2018. 

    For example, “What about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than his or her husband or wife, is it …?” The percentage of people responding, “Always wrong” dropped 8 points over a 20-year span to 75%. This indicates an increase in more permissive attitudes, but statistical tests confirm that an attitudinal shift of 8 percentage points in the last 10 years is not likely due to chance.

    According to this report, young adults who have grown up in the age of the internet are the least committed to iFidelity. It also shows that crossing emotional and sexual boundaries results in lower quality relationships. iFidelity, then, suggests that our online conduct is linked to the health of our real life relationships. Is your online conduct helping or hurting your relationship?

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on August 2, 2019.


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    Good News About Marriage and the Divorce Rate

    Shaunti Feldhahn, Harvard grad and ground-breaking social researcher, has worked on Capitol Hill and Wall Street. She currently uses her analytical skills to investigate changes impacting family and workplace relationships.

    “For the last eight years, I have been analyzing what the numbers say about marriage, divorce and remarriage in America,” says Feldhahn. “This started by accident as I was working on a newspaper column and wanted to correctly cite the divorce rate. But I found numbers that didn’t match the discouraging conventional wisdom at all. This piqued my curiosity and sent me down a totally different research path.”

    What Feldhahn found was shocking. Although researchers continue to project that half of marriages will end in divorce (relying in part on a government study that primarily focused on a high-risk group), we have never come close to hitting that average for society as a whole.

    Instead, according to the Census Bureau’s 2009 SIPP report, 71 percent of women are still married to their first spouse. The 29 percent who aren’t includes those widowed, not just divorced. Feldhahn estimates that roughly 20-25 percent of first marriages have ended in divorce. Even among baby boomers who have the highest divorce rate, seven in 10 marriages are still intact!

    “This is huge,” Feldhahn says. “We have a culture-wide feeling of futility about marriage because for years all of us - including me - have said that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. But that sense of discouragement makes it so easy to give up. We have to change the conventional wisdom so people know that most marriages last a lifetime.”

    Additional findings from Feldhahn’s research indicate:

    • Most marriages are happy – on average, 80 percent are happy.

    • The vast majority of remarriages survive.

    • The divorce rate is not the same in the church – among those who attend church regularly, divorce drops by 25-50 percent.

    • Marriage isn’t as complicated as people think – small changes can make a big difference.

    “I’ve done seven nationally representative studies of men, women and marriage. The common denominator in whether a marriage survives or fails is whether the couple has a sense of hope or futility,” Feldhahn says. “Feeling ‘We’re going to make it’ leads to a different outcome than, ‘This is never going to get better.’ So instead of believing it is futile to try, couples need to know that millions of marriages in our country are thriving. And that is the norm.”

    Feldhahn acknowledges that plenty of marriage problems still exist. But her surveys also show that the big ticket items, such as addiction, abuse or affairs, do not cause most marriage problems. Instead, most of the time husbands and wives care about each other and try hard, but in the wrong areas. They end up sabotaging a perfectly good marriage.

    “This means that it is less complicated than people think to get it right; it’s not rocket science,” Feldhahn says. “The most important thing couples can do is commit to making their marriage work, believe the best of their spouse’s intentions toward them, and make sure they have the right tools in their tool belt as they go through their marriage.” 


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    Does Marriage Get Better Over Time?

    Does marriage, like a good bottle of wine, really get better over time? That’s the question Dr. Paul Amato and his co-author, Spencer James, set out to answer. Amato serves as the Arnold and Bette Hoffman Emeritus Professor of Family Sociology and Demography at Pennsylvania State University. 

    There’s lots of evidence that many people are cynical about marriage these days. In fact, many are choosing not to marry because they have seen so many marriages end in bitter divorces and they figure, “What’s the point of putting yourself through that?”

    What if there is something we are missing from the bigger picture? Most would agree that anything worth having usually takes work, grit and a long-term view. So, are people throwing away perfectly good marriages in the earlier years because the going gets tough?

    In a recent conversation with Alysse ElHage, Dr. Amato shared the findings from his research, Changes in Spousal Relationships Over the Marital Life Course.

    Amato’s study was based on a unique 20-year longitudinal sample of 1,617 spouses. The study ran from 1980 to 2000. While not recent, it is the longest-running, most-detailed study of marriage available. According to Amato, there is no reason to assume that trajectories of relationship quality are different today than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.

    In reviewing the data, Amato measured how three common characteristics of marital quality (happiness, shared activities and discord) changed over time. He split the sample in several ways, but the most important one separated the divorced couples from those who remained together. Amato believes this is key, because past studies have led many researchers to conclude that marital quality inevitably deteriorates over time. If you focus on couples who remain together however, which is the majority, then average levels of marital quality do not decline. In reality, marital happiness remains moderately high and marital discord lessens substantially. 

    While plenty of studies have focused on the first five years of marriage, little research exists on couples who have been married for decades. Amato was very interested in focusing on the 205 long-term marriages in the study. It turns out that most of the couples who had been married 40 years or more are happy. 

    One of the biggest takeaways from Amato’s study is that for some deeply-troubled marriages, divorce is the best outcome. But based on previous work, he found that many divorces are not preceded by a serious relationship problem. Sometimes boredom, rather than misery, characterizes many unstable marriages. In these cases, infidelity is often the trigger that leads one partner to leave the union. When couples stick together through difficult times, remain faithful to one another and actively work to resolve problems, positive long-term outcomes are common. 

    Amato’s research shows that positive outcomes for couples in long-term marriages are the norm. And contrary to what many people think, marital quality is not destined to decline. It tends to remain high or even improve over the decades, which should encourage most couples.

    The big question is, how did these couples help their marriages endure over time? Although Amato’s study didn’t measure for relationship education, previous research indicates that couples who use relationship education services tend to have better relationship quality and more stable marriages than do other couples. 

    “What we can say from our study is that being happy, frequently sharing activities with your spouse, and having a peaceful marriage after 20, 30, or 40 years is quite common,” says Amato.

    For couples who find themselves in a lackluster marriage, wondering if it’s worth it to stick around, Amato’s research is good news. It shows that although rough spots happen in relationships, there is hope that in many instances, nurturing a marriage can help things get better as the years go by.

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    Who Handles the Money?

    Who handles the money in your home? What kind of debt load do you carry? How often do you argue about spending money?

    The 2009 State of Our Unions: Marriage in America research conducted by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, focused on money and marriage, including the influence that debt, assets, spending patterns and materialism have on marriage.

    The findings indicate a strong correlation between consumer debt and marital satisfaction.

    The study found that money matters are some of the most important problems in contemporary married life. Compared to other issues, financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands.

    Contributing researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Dew, professor of family studies at Utah State University, found that credit card debt and financial conflict are corrosive to marriages. Couples who report disagreeing about finances once a week are 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who disagree about it a few times a month. Dew also found that couples with no assets were 70 percent more likely to divorce than couples with $10,000 in assets.

    Interestingly, perceptions of how well one’s spouse handles money plays a role in shaping the quality and stability of family life in the United States. And, people who feel that their spouse does not handle money well report lower levels of marital happiness.

    Materialist spouses are also more likely to suffer from marital problems. Materialistic individuals report more financial problems in their marriage and more marital conflict, whether they are rich, poor or middle-class. For these husbands and wives, it would seem that they never have enough money.

    Maybe you’ve never given much thought to how you spend your money. Perhaps it never even occurred to you that what you are or are not doing with your money directly impacts the state of your marriage.

    It’s never too late to make changes. Here are some suggestions from financial experts:

    • Start with a conversation about your financial goals. If this is not something you can do by yourselves, consider attending a class on managing your finances.

    • Put all of your financial documents in a central location and go through them as a couple.

    • Track your spending. In order to make appropriate changes, you need to know where your money is going.

    • Start an emergency fund. Even putting a small amount in each month can be a safety net when you need extra cash.

    • Make a budget and commit to living within your means.

    One of the secrets to marital bliss is making sure that you control the money together instead of letting money control you. There seems to be something powerful, even sexy, about working with your mate to control your finances.

    Check out crown.org, daveramsey.com or MagnifyMoney.com for information on establishing a budget. You'll also find information for reducing debt, eliminating unnecessary fees and saving for the future.

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    6 Tips for a 'Til Death Do Us Part' Marriage

    Have you ever thought or said these words?

    I just can’t take it anymore... We’ve grown apart... I love you as a friend, but I’m not in love with you anymore... You aren’t the person I married... Things change.

    The crazy thing is, many happily married people also experience some of these feelings. It's true. Sometimes you feel like you can’t take it anymore. Other times you may feel distant to your spouse. Over time, mates do change.

    But do all these things have to shake the very foundation of your marriage? The answer is NO.

    What makes it possible for first-time marriages to survive?

    Marriage experts have found that couples who make their marriage work decide up front that divorce is not an option. Although many couples who choose to divorce have challenges, their marriage probably could have been saved and in the long run been a happy one. Their fatal error in the relationship was leaving their options open. If the going got too tough, in their mind, divorce was always a way out.

    You might be surprised to find this out, but research shows that divorce does not make you happier.

    Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages, conducted by the Institute for American Values, found that:

    • Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married.

    • Unhappy marriages were less common than unhappy spouses.

    • Staying married did not typically trap unhappy spouses in violent relationships.

    • 2 out of 3 unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later.

    The bottom line is, you have to make a decision to stay at the table and be committed to making the marriage work. Here are some things to help you keep the vow: "until death do us part.”

    • Learn skills to help keep your marriage on track. Research continues to show that couples who learn how to talk to each other, resolve conflict, manage their money, have appropriate expectations of the marriage, and build intimacy are significantly more likely to keep their marriage on track over time.

    • Understand that the grass may look greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it. On the surface someone may look better than the one you are with, but in truth, even beautiful sod eventually has onions, crabgrass and clover if you don't properly care for it. In most cases, people who have jumped the fence will testify that the grass is not greener, just different.

    • Learn how to resolve conflict without threatening to leave the marriage. All couples have spats. Some yell; others talk things through. The common denominator for couples who keep their marriage on track is learning how to disagree with the best of them, but leaving the marriage is never an option.

    • Stop using divorce as a crutch. Instead of throwing in the towel when the going gets tough, consider it a challenge to learn as much as you can about your mate and how you can effectively deal with adversity. Intentionally choose to love the one you're with.

    • Keep the big picture perspective. Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. One woman described her 65-year marriage to a group of young people. She shared about seven years throughout the 65-year span that were really bad due to work conditions, children, lack of time together, the husband's out of town job for a couple of years, etc. In the end, she asked herself, “Would I really want to trade 58 good years for seven bad years?” The answer was a resounding "No!" All marriages experience trials and tough moments. Don’t trade years of history for a couple of bad months or tough years.

    • Make a plan for your marriage. Going into marriage without a plan is like playing a football game without memorizing the playbook. If you want to win, you'll have team meetings, set goals, learn and relearn skills, learn how to lead and follow, and share responsibilities. And, you both need a copy of the playbook.

    If you want a “til death do us part” marriage, you must learn the plays so you can execute them correctly and prepare to adapt in different situations. That takes time. When you understanding that there will be occasional setbacks, you can move toward the goal line and even score a few touchdowns. Teammates block for each other, throw the ball to one another, help each other up, and encourage perseverance when the going gets tough.

    It has been said that individuals win games, but teamwork wins championships. So, make it your goal to have a championship marriage.


    Looking for more? Watch this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!


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    How You Can Have an Awesome, Amazing, Mind-Blowing Marriage

    Do you want an awesome, amazing, mind-blowing marriage?

    The answer to that question is usually a resounding YES! But, it is quickly followed with something like, “I could only hope for that,” or “Only in my dreams.”

    “Based on my experience as a counselor, I think a lot of people feel like they are sentenced to a life of boredom when they marry,” says Darlene Karst, counselor, marriage educator and wife. “The reality is that could not be further from the truth … if you are willing to put effort into making your marriage fun, romantic, passionate and intimate.”

    Most people would probably agree that it would be unusual for someone to be an exceptional mechanic, golfer, artist, or chef without training and a lot of practice. Yet people often expect to be excellent lovers and great at marriage overnight.

    “The truth is, if you want to have an awesome, amazing, mind-blowing marriage, you have to set your mind to it and work to make it happen,” Karst says. “We might be in the middle of hard economic times, but that doesn’t mean it has to be tough on your marriage. You don’t need a lot of money to make your relationship more romantic and intimate.”

    Karst suggests that there are certain things couples need to guard against because they are passion-killers in a marriage. When people think about passion and romance they often don’t consider how certain things can rob you of those feelings while others can set the tone. Consider the color of your room and the textures you have in your bedroom. Do they inspire romance?

    “I always ask couples if they have a television in their bedroom,” Karst says. “If they do, I tell them to get rid of it. The bedroom should be a sanctuary where you can be together without distractions. Other things that can rob you of romantic moments include old worn-out nightgowns and underclothing, sports memorabilia and other things that clutter up the bedroom as well as fighting in your bedroom.”

    With busy careers, children and outside commitments there is no question that life is hectic. Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans can end up out the window when a child gets sick, the boss hands out an urgent deadline or a disagreement comes along.

    “More often than not, those things are exceptions to the rule and not the rule,” Karst says. "Therefore, I encourage couples to make a plan. Make sure you set aside time during the week to talk about children, bills, meetings, etc. Just as you set aside time for these things, set aside time to be together.”

    If you are lacking in the creativity department, never fear. Karst gives these suggestions:

    • Take turns planning a special evening of pampering for your spouse. Think about what is important to your partner and plan an evening to indulge him or her. Be intentional about being with your partner physically and emotionally. Because men are so visual, one wife wore one of her husband’s favorite outfits and did things he really liked. On another night, he drew a bath for her and gave her a massage.

    • Do things differently. If you always make love the same way, change that so it doesn’t become routine. Consider these questions to help spice up your love life: What brings you the most sexual fulfillment? How often would you like to make love? What changes do you need to make to keep sex fresh and growing?

    • Teach the kids that your bedroom is your bedroom. When the door is closed, it means that mom and dad want a time-out. While this may sound totally unrealistic, it might surprise you how well it works once they get the idea.

    Perhaps now is a great time to kick-off an ongoing celebration of your marriage. To learn more about having an awesome, amazing, mind-blowing marriage, click here.

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    How Date Night Can Boost Your Relationship

    When it comes to romancing your mate for special holidays like Valentine's Day or birthdays, some couples have a head start on the celebration. Why? They've discovered that making regular time for each other is linked to lots of relationship benefits.

    According to The Date Night Opportunity, a 2012 report released by the National Marriage Project, couples who manage to devote time specifically to one another at least once a week:

    • Are markedly more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates, compared to couples who do not devote as much couple time to one another;
    • Are about three times more likely to report that they are “very happy” in their marriages;
    • Report higher levels of communication and commitment;
    • State that they have a highly satisfying sexual relationship compared to couples who spend less couple time together; and
    • Take that time as a chance to de-stress and engage in novel activities that are fun, active or otherwise arousing – from hiking or dancing to cooking together or playing cards.

    Regular date nights probably benefit couples most when they do more than dinner and a movie. Doing fun things together feels good, and your brain associates these times with pleasure.

    Report co-author W. Bradford Wilcox states that:

    • The couples who find date night particularly valuable are those who are less integrated into the local civic or religious fabric of their communities and those who are less committed to one another; and
    • Couples with a more fragile foundation for their marriage need to devote more time to one another to keep their marriage strong.

    It is always a good time to celebrate your own marriage and/or the marriages of those around you. Marriage is like anything else in life… cars, plants, or your body. If you don’t do preventive maintenance, a major overhaul could be on the horizon.

    Most marriages begin with romantic love that is linked to passion, excitement and an overwhelming attraction to each other. Over time the passion fades, but date nights have the potential to take your ho-hum marriage and make it spicy and meaningful again.

    If couple time hasn’t been a part of your regular routine, here’s a challenge:

    • Start by making a 6-week commitment to set aside an hour or two each week for a date night.
    • Agree that you won’t talk about the kids, your job or the in-laws. You don’t have to spend a ton of money. Just play together.
    • At the end of the six weeks, take time to discuss any changes you have experienced in your relationship.

    Who knows? “Couple time” might surprise you with the difference it makes in your relationship.

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    How to Increase Intimacy in Your Marriage

    If you could have paradise however you imagine it, what would it look like?

    If you could have that kind of paradise, do whatever you wanted to do there and be in charge of it, would you go there?

    If you could have that kind of paradise, but with no one else, would you still go?

    “These are questions I ask couples across this country and internationally,” says counselor Dr. Rick Marks. “As fed up as they might be with their marriage or relationship and as tempting as it may be, these questions actually create tension in a person because human beings were not designed to be alone. I rarely come across a person who says they would take that kind of paradise. Yet, I talk with hundreds of couples who are married and living a lonely existence.”

    Marks contends that the remedy for human aloneness is intimacy. Everybody craves intimacy, and people will find ways to get it.

    “Pain pursues pleasure,” Marks says. “Your brain is wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. We are all driven by our needs until the day we die. When you don’t feel loved, you search for ways to get that need met. This is why some people will say to you, ‘Bad love is better than no love at all.’”

    Consider this: If you had not eaten in five days and someone gave you a bunch of hamburgers, would it satisfy your hunger? Yes, because the message to your brain is that you are eating something. Eating rat poison instead of hamburgers would also satisfy your need initially. Why? Because your brain would still release the same squirt of dopamine to signal that the need had been met.

    “This is what people often do in marriage when things aren’t going well,” Marks says. “If I need attention and I get any kind of attention, I feel loved – even if the attention comes from the wrong person. People will go to rat poison to get their needs met, because it satisfies the need in the moment. Needs - met or unmet - affect how we think, feel and behave.”

    How would you respond to the question, "Do you feel loved and valued in your marriage?"

    Believe it or not, creating intimacy in your marriage isn’t only about your spouse. Sometimes husbands and wives actually hinder getting their intimacy needs met due to prideful self-reliance, exalting their own needs as more important than those of their spouse and being hypersensitive.

    “Your spouse could actually be trying to love you, but due to your pridefulness, you refuse to receive it,” Marks says. “We are often so focused on our own needs that we don’t pay attention to the needs of our spouse. This is a recipe for disaster. I, along with many others, have experienced this miserable existence.”

    So, what can you do to increase intimacy in your marriage?

    • Discuss with your spouse: When do each of you feel loved and valued?

    • Then ask yourself: Do I make it difficult to create intimacy in my marriage?

    Honest answers to these questions will help you pinpoint the areas where each of you can meet the other’s needs. This healthy balance of give and take can help you produce a more intimate and fulfilling marriage relationship.

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    Compatibility and Chemistry in Marriage

    According to Michael and Amy Smalley, they could not have been more in love than they were when they walked down the aisle. Their relationship was passionate and romantic. They say that chemistry completely blinded them.

    "I was her knight in shining armor," says Michael. "We had been friends for a very long time. It was only after a horrible breakup with another guy that we realized there might be something between us. We quickly fell head over heels in love. So you can imagine we were pretty shocked to find ourselves 18 hours into our marriage not speaking to each other. Both of us were thinking we had made a horrible mistake."

    Amy and Michael dated each other for five months before tying the knot. Their parents were very excited about the marriage, but nobody mentioned that the couple might not be ready.

    "So many couples, including us, mistakenly believe that chemistry and compatibility are what builds a successful marriage," Michael says. "We know based on research that chemistry has zero to do with long-term success in marriage. Chemistry goes up and down. Many couples actually base their commitment level in their marriage on how happy they are in the relationship. That is dangerous."

    Many years and three beautiful children later, the Smalleys say that their marriage would not still be around if it were all about compatibility.

    "To this day, our compatibility quotient is pretty low," Michael says. "Our cleaning styles, leisure activities and personalities are very different. However, six months into our marriage, we attended a workshop that taught us the skills that have been foundational to making the difference in our marriage."

    So many couples justify not being able to make their marriage work by saying, "We just aren't compatible."

    "Not being compatible does not mean you have to be miserable," he says. "My ability to love well has little to do with compatibility. It has everything to do with making a choice to love well. You make the decision to be happy."

    He clarifies that he is not referring to abusive marriages, but about the vast majority of marriages that end because people say they are disconnected and incompatible.

    The Smalleys now spend their time helping couples learn how to get past issues of unhappiness and incompatibility.

    "Most divorces occur because one spouse looks at the other and says, 'You are the problem,'" Michael says. "The truth is, all of us are selfish. In many instances, we focus on the other person. Instead, we really need to look in the mirror and determine how we are contributing to the current condition of the marriage."


    Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!


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    Secrets of Long-Term Marital Bliss

    In this culture of throw-away everything, many young people are shocked to meet a couple who has been married for more than 20 years. They often claim to have never met someone who has been married that long. Then they ask, “How did you do that, and why?”

    What helps couples experience long-term marriage?

    Lead researcher Dr. Robert Levenson at the University of California, Berkeley, along with Drs. John Gottman and Laura Carstensen, launched a longitudinal study of 156 middle-aged and older couples to gain a better understanding of the emotional quality of long-term marriages. Every five years, the couples came to the Berkeley campus to talk about their marriage. They specifically focused on areas of conflict in their relationship.

    Twenty-five years later, Levenson believes the research shows some significant findings.

    • The first 15 years of marriage can be challenging. But, the next stage of marriage gets better. Couples stop trying to do extreme makeovers on each other. They take pride in each other’s accomplishments. And, they learn to value and genuinely respect each other.
    • Many couples believe the absence of conflict is a positive thing for marriage. However, the research showed the best indicator of enjoying a long marriage isn’t the absence of conflict, but the way couples handle it.
    • Believe it or not, the wife’s ability to calm down quickly after an intense argument positively impacted the long-term happiness of the couple. Interestingly, the husband calming down quickly did not have the same impact. The research revealed that couples who say “we” stand a greater chance of resolving conflict.

    In case you're wondering about the major sources of conflict in marriage, the research demonstrated that communication or lack thereof often is the culprit. Husbands believe their wives don’t think they can do anything right and wives often feel emotionally alone. The other big bone of contention is children.

    Couples typically spend a lot of time taking childbirth classes and preparing the nursery. But, they usually spend little time preparing their marriage for parenthood. Issues arise concerning how to raise the child, division of the home workload and the husband feeling neglected.

    Here's another interesting find: Some portion of happy marriage has to do with our DNA.

    A gene that helps to regulate serotonin can predict how much our emotions affect our relationships. All humans inherit a copy of this gene variant. Some have a long version and others have a short version. Those with the short variant were more prone to unhappiness in marriage when negativity was present and happier when more positive emotions were present. Conversely, marital satisfaction of those with the long variant was less impacted by the emotional state of their marriage.

    The findings of this study give great information for couples. It's useful whether you're preparing for marriage, already in the midst of the first 15 or leaping into the second half of marriage. Even though people can’t change their DNA, everyone can learn communication and conflict management skills. With that said, the key to building a healthy long-term marriage is committing to be a lifelong learner.

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    4 Ways You Can Protect Your Marriage From Social Media

    Does media use really impact marital quality?

    This question has been swirling around in the minds of many for more than a decade. According to attorneys, the use of social media impacts divorce cases now more than ever before. Counselors also say it is increasingly common for couples to argue about media use in a marriage counseling session.

    You only have to look around to see how media use impacts marriages. Next time you eat out, watch as couples sit together at a table. Chances are, both of them will on their device instead of talking to each other.

    Jeffery Dew and Sarah Tulane, colleagues at Utah State University, decided to examine the issue. They studied more than 1,300 randomly selected married couples. Then, they measured their use of television, video games and social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The couples rated their marital quality in terms of happiness in different areas, how often they fought and how likely they thought they were to get divorced.

    The findings showed that the more husbands used social media, the worse they both felt about their marriage - and both spouses reported more conflict. Women whose husbands spent more time on social media reported lower levels of marital happiness, and they both perceived higher levels of divorce likelihood.

    It is interesting that the husband's use of social media appeared to impact marital quality more than the wife's. Dew and Tulane speculated that, since women use communication to build their relationships more than men do, they see it as just another tool to communicate and connect. However, men's use of social networking sites may violate social norms and expectations about their behavior, which could lead to marital issues.

    How can you keep media use from harming your marital quality?

    • Make time for face-to-face conversation. Focusing on your phone, television, Facebook, etc. takes away from truly focusing on each other. While media can be used to communicate with your spouse, there is no substitute for face-to-face conversation.
    • Pay attention to how much time you spend playing video games individually. When spouses disagreed about how much time the other was spending gaming, marital quality decreased.
    • Ask each other about how media use affects your relationship. You may need to take a break from media and invest that time elsewhere.
    • Establish media-free zones. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Decide together if certain times or places in your home (like the bedroom) are off-limits for media use. Be accountable to each other.

    Sitting beside each other doesn't necessarily mean you are spending quality time together, especially if you both are in your own worlds utilizing media. Take steps to ensure that media doesn't distract you from the most important relationship in your life.


    Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!