Happy Days of Wedded Bliss

The common expression is wedded bliss,and despite some discouraging trends over the last few decades, marriage can be exactly that blissful.

Benefits of a Happy Marriage

For decades the work of social scientists has revealed a plethora of advantages connected to the happily married. In March 2008, for example, a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that couples with a happy marriage have safer blood pressure levels than single adults. The researchers from Brigham Young University said the married couples they studied had better blood pressure than even those singles who had a network of supportive friends,according to a BYU News press release. Other studies have consistently showed that being married increases happiness, increases the chances of escaping poverty even in Americas inner cities and, as a corollary, is linked to greater wealth creation. There is even a decline in the abuse of drugs that appears to be uniquely attached to the married state. Married people can also generally expect to live longer lives than people who are single, cohabiting, divorced or widowed.

Building a healthy marriage

 While wedded bliss may be a reality backed by sociological science, it does not automatically result from saying, I do,at the altar. Hard work and following the basic rules of human relationships are necessary factors in the creation of a healthy marriage which is the taproot of the happy marriage. There's also another truism: A healthy marriage is not a static reality. Couples dont either have a healthy marriage or not have it,said Kristin Anderson Moore, who is a social psychologist and also president of Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies the factors affecting children and their families. “Rather, couples have healthy marriages to varying degrees, in varying respects, and the quality of the same marriage may differ over time. In a report titled, What Is Healthy Marriage? Defining the Concept, Moore and other Child Trends researchers stated: If the partners are interested and motivated, a healthy marriage is capable of being built, changed, or modified.

Communication, for example, is a key element. But Moore insisted that it is not the sheer amount of communication that is important but the content of it the quality and nature of the communication. For example, she said, researchers have identified negative patterns such as rejecting a wife influence,negative start-up(starting conversations with blame or criticism), and flooding(overwhelming your partner with negative expressions). On the other hand, communication that is more helpful is always respectful, Moore noted, being characterized by a willingness to compromise and, frequently, by a sense of humor. Since every marriage experiences conflict sooner or later, the ability to handle disagreements or difficulties is also an important factor in a healthy marriage. The resolution of conflict may involve successful problem solving, a respectful decision to live and let live or it may involve mutual recognition that the sources of a couples conflict are external. Other important elements for a healthy marriage: plenty of interaction and time together, intimacy and emotional support.


A sense of commitment
 The factor most emphasized by Moore, however, is the commitment of the couple to the marriage. The tendency has been for social scientists to overlook commitment as a foundation stone for a healthy marriage. Instead, the very approach to determining the benefits of marriage that produced some of the studies mentioned in this article comes from the dominant ethic in American culture: Individualism. Blaine Fowers, chairman of the department of educational and psychological studies at the University of Miami, and Alan J. Hawkins, professor of family life at Brigham Young University, said in a report: An individualistic perspective of marriage focuses on the benefits that partners derive from the relationship, and views the contributions that partners make to a relationship as investments that will provide a return of satisfaction, intimacy, support and reward. But commitment transcends the individual desire for self-satisfaction and moves a person to seek the benefit of the couple. It is a focus on what Fowers, Hawkins and others have called a sense of we-ness. Commitment, Moore said, is taking a long-term perspective toward ones relationship, having an intention to persevere when difficulties arise, and being committed to caring for the other person.

Covenant-keeping marriages
John Piper, author of the soon-to-be-published book This Momentary Marriage believes the commitment of a husband and a wife to one another exceeds even romance as the cornerstone of the relationship. Staying married is not mainly about staying in love. Its about covenant-keeping.
Read full article Happy Days, It takes work but Marriage is usually a Blessing By ED Vitagliano AFA Journal, Feb. 2009 copyright 2006-2008 American Family News Network


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