Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Is It Possible to Live “Happily Ever After”?

             Families, communities, and nations are stronger when the knot between husband and wife is tightly tied. One way to tie the knot tight is to avoid the myths concerning marriage. Myths about marriage can be deceptive and even destructive. Misha D. Crawford wrote about a couple of myths that can be misleading and frightening. 

            The first myth mentioned by Crawford is the myth that “the odds are stacked against a happy marriage.” Crawford stated, “Negative attitudes and expectations about marriage are based largely on the myth that for every two marriages, one will end in divorce.” Even though half of all marriages end in divorce, that statistic does not mean that “Marriage is a gamble.” The fifty percent divorce rate does not mean that any given marriage has only a 50/50 chance of being successful. She suggested that such a chance would be like flipping a coin. “The whole truth – the more nuanced truth – is that the risk of divorce is not uniform among couples.”

            There are some groups that are more likely to divorce with “high risk” being used to describe the following types of marriages: “marrying at a young age, poverty, limited education, premarital cohabitation, and premarital childbearing.” On the other hand, “Key factors associated with a lower risk of divorce include those who are educated, religious, of middle or upper socioeconomic status and those who delay marriage until after their teen years.” Crawford referred to a “study of well-educated couples” where “fewer than 6% had divorced.”

            Crawford suggested that certain life decisions can also lower the divorce rate, such as “relational commitment, communication, fidelity, avoiding debt, avoiding addiction,” etc. She added that “Individual and couple factors such as communication skills, personal maturity, emotional readiness, forgiveness, religious devotion, sexual restraint, and the management of conflict can be learned and practiced in developing true marital competency and readiness.”

            Although most marrying couples expect to “live happily ever after,” there is a myth that “happiness and romance end when the realities of marriage and the children come.” This myth says that a couple is happy only until “the honeymoon ends.” Facts show this is not true.

Psychologists have pointed to marriage as the single most reliable happiness indicator in a person’s life. Martin Seligman, one of the world’s foremost academic psychologists, reports that marriage leads to greater happiness and well-being than one’s career, community, or fortune. Those married report significantly higher life satisfaction than those who are single, separated, divorced, or widowed. In one study of well-educated couples, a vast majority (94%) described their marriages as either “very happy,” “extremely happy,” or “happy.” The research is straightforward: simply put, married adults are much happier than unmarried adults.

            Crawford shares several factors for why married adults are happier than unmarried adults. “Among the most prevalent are that those who marry tend to be healthier, wealthier, more productive, and enjoy better sex more often.” If those reasons are not good enough, consider this one: “Beyond individual motives, marriage provides a common purpose, an opportunity to create a shared life together, shared activities, and relational support during struggle.” That is not all. “Researchers have found that the happiness of married people extends far beyond newlywed bliss. It surpasses the honeymoon phase and extends into old age.”

            Happiness and marital satisfaction can happen even after children join the family. “While difficulty and transition inevitably accompany parenting and shared family life, meaning and fulfillment are found in a partnership developed within life’s challenges, not despite them.” According to Crawford, this means that “happily ever after” is not a fairytale, and it can be reality for couples who develop a true partnership in spite of challenges.

            The myths discussed above are just two of many myths about marriage. Any newlywed couple has the potential for living “happily ever after” despite the fifty percent divorce rate. Each couple determines the happiness in their marriage. The important thing is for both husband and wife to realize that marital happiness is both attainable and worth every effort to achieve. The tighter they tie the knot that binds, the happier their marriage will be and the greater strength they will provide for their community and nation.

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