Marriage Takes Elbow Grease
Ninety percent of Americans will get married at least once in their life. Fifty percent of all marriages will end in divorce. That means that only forty percent of marriages last a lifetime. The path that leads to marriage is not an easy one, and the path that continues after marriage is even harder, causing many people to abandon the journey before it has really begun. While successful marriages require a lot of hard work and effort, the payoff may be well worth all of the elbow grease that goes into them.
Relationships are at the core of human existence. It has been proven, many times over, that lack of social contact can make a person go insane. If social contact does not happen when a person in an infant, he or she will suffer serious developmental consequences. As humans we have a internal motivation to belong and to have long-lastings interactions with others (Myers, D., p. 381). For most humans, this includes the act of marriage; selecting a mate to spend the rest of one's life with.
Before marriage can take place, there is the obvious step of finding or selecting one to marry. Some cultures use arranged marriages. These are marriages that are arranged by the couple's parents. In the United States, the most common way to find someone to marry is by dating and seeking out those that one is attracted to. Being attracted to and liking someone is the first step towards marriage.
Different people use different methods to find a mate. In the modern day and age, the computer and Internet are becoming more and more popular and allows one to meet people from all over the world. Whether or not a person is using modern technology to find a mate, there are some factors that contribute to feelings of liking and attraction between two people. Proximity, physical attractiveness, similarities and compliments of the self, rewards of the relationship, and if someone has mutual feelings will all determine if a person is someone who becomes an acquaintance, friend, or more.
Those that are in close proximity, or nearer, to a person are more likely to become an acquaintance of that person. Friendships and romantic relationships are also likely to develop with those that a person comes in contact with in his or her environments (Myers, D., p. 385). The more that a person interacts with another person, the more likely he or she is to develop a friendship with or an attraction for that other person. If a person is anticipating liking someone before he or she meets another person, it is more likely that a friendship will develop as well.
Growing up everyone has probably heard the phrase, looks aren't everything. As a society, people are taught to look past first appearances to the person that is in the inside, however researchers are discovering that looks do matter. Men tend to rely on looks a little more than women, however it has been shown that women, too, prefer an attractive mate to an unattractive one (Myers, D., p. 395). Those that someone choose to be his or her friends or romantic partner will be people who that person feels is a good match on intelligence levels and attractiveness.
Attractiveness varies from culture to culture. What is considered beautiful to one person may be considered ugly to another person. Researchers have also shown that those people a person likes are more attractive to that person than those that a person does not like (Myers, D., p. 398). When a person is in love, he or she sees the other person as more attractive than those that a person is not in love with.
While attractiveness and first impressions are what get a person interested in meeting and getting to know another person, additional factors will determine if the relationship develops into friendship or a romantic relationship. Those that share common, values, beliefs, and attitudes are more likely to be friends or romantic partners (Myers, D., p. 399). Research shows that the more a husband and wife are alike in values, beliefs, and attitudes the more likely they are to have a successful marriage.
When seeking a mate, some people will seek those that complement them instead of those that are similar to them (Myers, D., p. 401). This is where the common phrase, opposites attract, comes in. If a person is really bad at keeping a budget, then they may choose a partner that is good at keeping a budget. A quiet person may seek a more outgoing person, or a risk-taker may choose someone who always plays it safe. It is not so much as opposites attract but more of one person having traits that the other is lacking, so that a good pair is made.
Knowing that someone likes a person may help to improve his or her liking for that person (Myers, D., p. 402). This includes those that develop romantic relationships. If a woman knows that a man is attracted to her and likes her, she is more likely to feel the same feelings for him. If feelings are unknown, one partner in the relationship may feel uncertainty about where things are headed and what the other person is thinking and it may cause tension.
In order to feel good about a person's relationship, one has to feel good about his or herself as well. If a woman or man has a low self-esteem, then he or she may also view their relationship as a negative one. On the other hand, if a man or woman feel good about his or herself, then they will also see the relationship as a positive one. Everything is never going to perfect, but having a positive disposition may help perk up the relationship.
Often times a person becomes friends with people and choose his or her romantic partners simply because it makes him or her feel good to be in the company of that other person. People are attracted to other people that they find personally rewarding and pleasing to be with (Myers, D., p. 405). If a relationship has more rewards than costs, it is more likely to continue. If a relationship moves beyond friendship, two people may fall in love. Marriage is more possible than ever now.
Love has been sung about, wrote about, spoke about, and picked apart for thousands of years. The meaning of love is not as simple as the spelling of it. With everything that everyone knows about love, it still remains a mystery. There are some theories about love but it may always be something where no definite answers exist.
One theory is that love is a self-expansion of ourselves (Hendrick, S., 2004). With this view, love is viewed as an emotional union between two people that involves the selves of both parties. Each person becomes a part of the other. This could also explain why some married couples are with a partner that compliments themselves. Each person becomes a part of the other and personality traits combine.
Robert Sternberg developed the triangular theory of love (Hendrick, S., 2004, Myers, D., p. 408). With this view, love is composed of three different components that combine to make eight different types of romantic love. The three characteristics of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment. When these are mixed, one gets the eight different types of romantic love: liking (intimacy only), infatuated love (passion only), empty love (commitment only), romantic love (passion and intimacy, companionate love (commitment and intimacy), fatuous love (commitment and passion), consummate love (all three components present), and empty love ( all three components absent).
A communications-approach to love has also been suggested. With this approach, communication is one of the essential factors for romantic love (Hendrick, S., 2004). Touching, talking, spending time together, doing things for each other, and being supportive and understand all communicate the words I Love You. Saying the words is not enough, one has to communicate it in other ways as well.
There are two different types of love. There is passionate love. This type of love is emotional, exciting, and intense. Passionate love is what a person feels when he or she love a person and are in love with a person Myers, D., p. 408). His or her thoughts are consumed with the other person. This type of love can last months or up to a few years.
Compassionate love is the affection one feels for those with whom their lives are deeply intertwined (Myers, D., p. 411). A passionate love is hot and on fire but eventually the fire cools and the coals of compassionate love remains. If a couple survives past the passionate love, compassionate love is what they are left with. Compassionate love is low-key and affects different parts of the brain.
In modern-day America, passionate love is considered to be a great foundation for marriage. In fact, some people actually question the relationship that does not experience passionate love (Montgomery, Marilyn J; Sorell, Gwendolyn T, 1997). It is interesting to note however, that even the most passion-filled romances only last a few months, with some lasting no longer than a year. Some researchers suggests that passionate love is an evolutionary way of bringing two people together. They also argue that the fires of passionate love need to die off into embers before true love can grow.
How are person loves will also determine what type of relationships he or she has. Sociologist John Allan Lee, and psychologists Clyde Hendrick and Susan Hendrick, identified three different love styles, ludus, storge, and eros (Myers, D., p. 408). With their explanation, these styles could combine to create three further styles. However, experts believe that the three additional styles could be considered independent. Pragma, magna, and agape are used to describe the more modern styles.
Eros lovers have a particular physical type that appeals to them and may have a “aha” moment when they meet a potential partner (Hendrick, S., 2004). The lover is intense and wants to be involved in every aspect of their partner's life. They are open, self-confident, and trusting.
Ludus lovers view love as a game to be played for personal enjoyment. A preferred physical type is not essential and they may have more than one lover at a time (Hendrick, S., 2004). The intention is not to hurt others, although this does happen, it is about having fun and enjoying the game.
A storge lover will build a romantic love on a strong basis of friendship. The partner will have similar attitudes and values (Hendrick, S., 2004). These similarities are more important than physical appearances. Long-term commitment is also more important that short-term excitement.
The pragma lover is practical and pragmatic. He or she may not have a preferred body type but he or she will have a list of qualities that one must possess (Hendrick, S., 2004). The pragma lover is not looking for great excitement with their partner but instead looking for a life-long partner that offers a rewarding life.
A mania lover is just as its name describes. This type of love is characterized by emotional highs and lows, dependence, possessiveness, jealousy and insecurity (Hendrick, S., 2004). Mania lovers are always worried that their partner will find someone else. The mania love may also not trust commitment even if it is offered.
The rarest type of lover is the agape lover. An agape lover cares more about the well-being of their partner than they do for themselves (Hendrick, S., 2004). Agape lovers have much in common with compassionate love. What one gives is way more important that what one gets in a relationship.
With regard to love styles there is no right or wrong way to love another person. Each style will be utilized by different types of people (Hendrick, S., 2004). However it should be noted that some styles are associated with a satisfying relationship and some are associated with an unhappy ones. One should not take the information of love styles and personalize it to themselves. Instead the information should be used to be made aware of the different ways in which people love.
To this new edition (the original came out in 1994), the authors have added current research on marriage and societal changes. At its core, however, remains the program that Markman and Scott Stanley, codirectors of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, created to help couples overcome nuptial difficulties: the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). Based on empirical research, PREP emphasizes teaching couples to handle conflict better by using the speaker-listener technique, which involves having one person speak at a time while the other actively listens. Because of the authors' unfortunate attempts at humor and some rather unncessary and slapdash-looking cartoon, this is perhaps not to most appealing manual on the subject. Nonetheless, it's still recommended for public and social work libraries owing to the tried-and-true methodology it explains. (Library Journal, November 15, 2001)
The Raineys offer an upbeat and practical manual for marriage to guide couples through the challenges they face as they start their lives together.
“Terry Real helps overturn old-fashioned, confining roles and opens up a treasury of hope for lasting and exciting intimacy for couples everywhere. This is a wonderful, joyful, and highly useful book.”
–Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Crazy Busy
Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage. He uses rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in detail over many years for unprecedented insight into the inner workings of successful relationships. Here is the culmination of this life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Learn how to build a positive dynamic with your spouse Hear tips for getting closer through everyday interactions, gain insight into the ways lasting marriages operate, if you are serious about improving your relationship, this is a must-see DVD. The discoveries Dr. Gottman has made are insightful and you can start using the techniques right away. Listen to John's DVD and then let your partner listen to it. Or, listen to it together. This presentation is sure to spark some serious conversations about your relationship. More importantly, this DVD can put you and your partner on a real path to a stronger, more fulfilling and ultimately happier relationship.
How do you find love? And then, how do you keep from losing it? The people who report the greatest satisfaction with life are couples, people who are in long - term relationships. Not all of them, of course, but on average couples are healthier and say they're happier. But is monogamy a basic instinct or, like the wild kingdom, are we born to stray? When do most partners cheat? ABC News explores why things go wrong and how science can help save your relationship.
Throughout a marriage, husbands and wives find themselves evaluating whether or not their relationship is growing the way they want it to grow and the way God wants it to grow. Questions abound. How do you build a marriage that will weather the storms of life? What do you do when one spouse has hurt the other? How do you handle differences in expectations? This video from Paraclete Press, hosted by award-winning author Walter Wangerin, Jr., not only helps couples deal with questions like these but also helps them build enduring and loving marriages. Growing Together: Building a Marriage that Lasts acknowledges that every marriage has its own unique character and personality. Rather than being a "how-to" for marriage, this video aims to equip couples with the tools necessary to build a vital, safe, and dynamic marriage that can sustain them through the inevitable changes and challenges life brings. Walter Wangerin, Jr., shares candidly from his own marriage experience and gives practical ways for couples to nurture Christ-centered marriages. Divided into 9 segments, Growing Together covers topics such as forgiveness, trust, talking and listening, and sexual intimacy. The accompanying study guide provides Scripture references and questions to encourage dialogue and writing after each video segment has been viewed. Walter Wangerin, Jr., is Jochum University Professor and writer-in-residence at Valparaiso University. He is the author of more than 20 widely acclaimed books for children and adults, including The Book of the Dun Cow, The Book of God, and Paul: A Novel.
When two people are deeply in love, marriage may be the ending result. During the 1950's and 1960's, marriages were at their all time high. Marriages rates were high; divorce rates were low. Men were considered the breadwinners and females were considered the homemakers (Estin, A., 2008 ).Divorces were hard to obtain and serious marital fault had to be proven.
As society's values have changed, the institution of marriage has changed. The fact that divorce happens in half of all American marriages is an indicator of deeper value changes within society. Many states have tried to promote and strengthen marriage because of the successful marriage decline (Estin, A., 2008 ). For example, in Arkansas and Arizona, convent marriages have been established. If a couple chooses to have a convent marriage, they must attend premarital counseling and divorces are harder to obtain.
In the last decade, marriage has been under a close microscope as supporters of same-sex marriage push to make it a legal, undeniable truth. This has led to a deeper look at heterosexual marriages and what does and does not constitute a legal marriage (Estin, A., 2008 ). Since there is great support for both sides of the issues, and it really is a matter of opinion, the debate will most likely continue for a long time to come.
There is still a high value placed on marriage even though many fail. It is estimated that at least 90% of the population will marry at least once in their lifetime (Estin, A., 2008 ). The key is to know where the institution of marriage has been, note the things that have worked, and to make way for the changes that come as times change. It is important to keep the social institution of marriage alive so that it can spread to future generations.
Researchers have been wondering how people get close to one another and what allows this closeness to take place. There are many theories ranging from the psychodynamic theory to the social-exchange theory ( Darity, W, Jr., 2008). Marriage is one of the closest relationships that a person will experience in his or her lifetime. There are a few factors that may determine how and why people get close to one another. These factors will also influence how a couple deals with the ups and downs of their relationship.
A person's attachment style is one factor that has an influence on a relationship. Attachment to another human being in a close, long-lasting relationship encompasses such things as mutual understanding, giving and receiving support, and valuing and enjoying being with the loved one (Myers, D., p. 413). There are four types of attachment styles that a person may have. Some may even have a combination of two or more of the styles.
Secure attachment is the attachment style that is marked by trust and intimacy. Many children and adults enjoy this type of attachment. Adults that are secure find it easier to become close to others and when they are in a relationship it is satisfying and enduring (Myers, D., p. 413). With this type of style, trust is what sustains the relationship.
The preoccupied attachment style is marked by a sense of one's own unworthiness, anxiety, ambivalence, and possessiveness (Myers, D., p. 413). Adults that exhibit this type of attachment style may be less trusting and more possessive and jealous. With this type of style, when a person is discussing conflicts with his or her partner, he or she will get emotional and angry. A person with this style may also break up with the same person over and over again.
The dismissive attachment style is marked by a distrust in others (Myers, D., p. 413). This style and the fearful attachment style are avoidance styles that is marked by fear of rejection. Adults that have either the dismissive or fearful style of attachment are less invested in a relationship and more likely to end them. They are also more likely to have sex without love and one-night stands.
Another factor that influences a relationship is equity. Equity is “a condition in which the outcomes people receive from a relationship are proportional to what they contribute to it,” (Myers, D., p. 415). This doesn't always mean equal outcomes. Happily married people do not keep track of who owes who and who gives what. Those in long-term equitable relationships are more content. When both people in a union give and receive freely, and discuss decisions together the union has better odds at a long, satisfying love.
Letting others see into the deepest part of oneself is part of an intimate relationship. These relationships are deep and compassionate (Myers, D., p. 417). Once a relationship becomes compassionate, one can be his or herself without fear of losing the other person's affection. Having another person know true parts of oneself is an indicator of a strong relationship. Some research shows that these types of relationships are more likely to survive years of marriage than other types of relationships.
Every relationship has conflict. No relationship will go on for years without some sort of conflict. The difference between relationships is how the conflicts are handled. It is certain the some relationships will end. Those that are dating will break up and those that are married will get divorces. There is nothing that could ever be done to change that fact. Some people just do not belong together.
The divorce rate varies across the world. Research has shown that those societies that have a more individualistic society tend to have a higher rate of divorce (Myers, D., p. 421). . This is simply because of the fact that individualistic people have a higher demand for personal satisfaction and passion from a relationship. This puts more pressure of the relationship.
It has been shown that those that go into a union with the intention that it will be a long-term commitment have healthier, less turbulent, and sustainable relationships. People will usually stay married if they get married after the age of twenty, both grew up in a stable two-parent household, dated a while before marriage, are well and similarly educated, have a stable income from a good job, lived in a small town or farm, did not live together or have children before marriage, are religiously committed, and are of similar age, faith, and education. Although other factors may influence the success of a marriage.
It almost seems like as society becomes more materialistic, so does marriage. As societies standards for personal happiness rise, so do the expectations within a marriage. Some married couples expect to feel like they are floating on cloud nine all of the time and for the rest of their life, There is a terrible sense of let down when reality hits and life sets in.
Robert Sternberg, a researcher, wrote,
Living happily ever after need not be a myth, but if it is to be a reality, the happiness must be based upon different configurations of mutual feelings at various times in a relationship. Couples who expect their passion to last forever, or their intimacy to remain unchallenged, are in for disappointment...We must constantly work at understanding, building, and rebuilding our loving relationships. Relationships are constructions, and they decay over time if they are not maintained and improved. We cannot expect a relationship simply to take care of itself, any more than we can expect that of a building. Rather, we must take responsibility for making our relationships the best they can be. (Myers, D., p. 424).
Creating a love that lasts a long time requires a lot of effort for both people that are involved. It requires taking time out each day to be together in some way. It requires putting aside all of the little differences that may create tension. It requires giving and receiving freely. And it takes effort in order to accomplish any of these. They just do not happen because the couple wants them too. Having another person with whom one can share his or her life is the greatest pay-off that one can receive.
Marriage requires elbow grease. The writer of this paper married her husband a little over a year ago. She and him did things a little differently than most. They dated for two years had a child, became engaged, had another child, and then got married. Even though the marriage is only a little over a year old, the relationship is just about eight years old.
During this time, there have been times when it would have been easier to just call it quits. The problems were so big that quitting would have been easier than trying to fix what was going wrong. We never did though. We worked through all of our problems, and have found that our love and our marriage is stronger because of it. We now have the confidence to get through any problem that we may face with the knowledge that we can see it though if we work at it. Our marriage is not perfect and we will continue to face challenges as we go through the years. However it is strong because we are devoted to each other and the vows were took on our wedding day.
If marriages were easy, divorces probably wouldn't be necessary. Marriages are hard work and require an equal amount of effort from each partner. One can have a love style or a particular relationship type, however changing is also a part of marriage. Each partner needs to be willing to shift their feelings, attitudes, and behaviors so that each person in the relationship benefits. With a little elbow grease, marriage can be the most exhilarating experiences imaginable.
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Darity, W., Jr. (2008). Marriage. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Vol. 4. 2nd ed. Detroit Macmillan Reference USA.
Estin, A. (2008). Golden Anniversary Reflections: Changes in Marriage After Fifty Years. Family Law Quarterly. Vol. 42, Iss. 3; p. 333, 20 pgs: Chicago. Retrieved from Research Library on November 25, 2009.
Hendrick, S. (2004). Colse Relationships Research: A Resource for Couple and Family Therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Retrieved from Research Library on November 25, 2009.
Montgomery, M., Sorell, G. (1997). Differences in love attitudes across family life stages. Family Relations. Retrieved from Research Library on November 25, 2009.
Myers, D. (2008) Social Psychology (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill: New York
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