Doing Life Together

men-2425121_1280Ahhh love! This time of year you stroll down store aisles surrounded by red hearts and candy. There are cards expressing love and couples plotting a romantic Valentine’s Day. But being in love involves more than a feeling of romance. In fact,  a group of Australian researchers found that couples going the distance had more than loving feelings going for them.

Age: Age matters.  According to the Australian study, couples in which the husband is nine or more years older than his wife, are twice as likely to divorce. And men who marry before the age of 25 are also at a higher risk for divorce. Perhaps this speaks to maturity and life stage. Someone in a similar stage shares more of the same cultural history and markers. Now, this doesn’t mean age differences can’t work for some couples, but in general, maturity and age sameness reduce risk of divorce.

Children: When couples have children prior to marriage or from a previous marriage, the risk of separation or divorce rises. The take-away, wait until you are married to start a family. It brings stability for children, but also for the couple. And the wife and husband should be on the same page with the desire to have children because when a wife wants children more than a husband does, this becomes a risk factor for divorce.

Extended family (parents). One of my books is entitled, I Married You, Not Your Family. This title points to a marital myth. When you marry, you get the person’s family as well. And if you marry into a family in which the parents are separated or divorced, your risk for divorce is higher than those whose parents stayed together.

Married Before: Here is a startling statistic, If you marry someone who is on their second or third marriage, the risk of separation shoots up to 90% compared to those married for the first time. My advice, have some major premarital therapy before you tie the knot.

Money: Money is always a stressor and issue with couples. Being poor or unemployed ups the risk for divorce. So get a good job, stay at it and build a financial future.

Lifestyle: If one partner smokes and the other doesn’t, this lifestyle habit can contribute to relationship failure. Smoking cessation is good for anyone, but it really matters when you marry a nonsmoker.

None of these factors mean a marriage is going to fail, but be aware that they each pose a risk and should be discussed and addressed before you make the move to marry. Love is wonderful, but real life kicks in and the reality of the relationship is influenced by lots of things that make a lifelong commitment doable, but sometimes challenging.







Resource: The study was jointly written by Dr Rebecca Kippen and Professor Bruce Chapman from The Australian National University, and Dr Peng Yu from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


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