Is your marriage strong enough for kids?

Is it possible to foretell the demise of one’s marriage? An acquaintance confided that she was not too keen to start a family with her husband of a year because she did not have enough confidence in their marriage.

Within 2 years the couple divorced, childless. Not many couples have that sort of intuition to forecast the future end of their marriage.

According to the South African Department of Statistics, 28 924 divorces occurred in 2008. Of these 56.6% (16 370) had children under 18 years and the average number of children per divorce was between one and two. More women (50.6%) sued for divorce compared to men (37, 8%).

The formula for long marriage

Social scientists have attempted to come up with formulas to foretell whether or not a marriage will survive. One such study was published in Psychology Today in the article ‘Will your marriage last?’ The study was based on research done by American professor of human ecology, Ted Huston, Ph. D.

The study concluded that couples who date for a short periods of  time (months instead of years ) before marrying are likely to divorce as they get a rude awakening when they discover their partner’s true colours after tying the knot. Couples who have unrealistic expectations of marriage were also found to be likely to split.

Loss of love and affection was noted as one of the reasons couples divorce. Failure to maintain initial strong positive feelings leads to lots of fights and divorce. The study encouraged couples to preserve the initial positive feelings they initially had for each other.

Couples with a realistic view of marriage who viewed the loss of ‘honeymoon euphoria’ as ‘a natural transition from romantic relationship’ to ‘working partnership’ are likely to stay married according to the study.

Stable and unstable combinations

Another study, developed by a team of British and American mathematicians which claims to predict the failure or success of a marriage with 94% accuracy came up with 5 marital types, 3 of which are more prone to divorce.

Stable marital types

i) Two validators- ‘Husband and wife (who) have mutual respect and share values.’

ii) Two avoiders- ‘Husband and wife (who) agree to disagree and avoid conflict.’

Marital types prone to divorce

i) Two ‘volatiles'- ‘Both partners are passionate and see each as equals,’ This marital type can either be stable or unstable.

ii) The ‘volatile’ and a ‘validator’ – ‘one passionate, one conciliatory.’

iii) A ‘validator’ and an ‘avoider’ – ‘one partner tackles problems while the other avoids conflict.’

The same study claims how a couple feels and acts when conversing about a topic which is a common source of strife between them, may be a sign of whether their marriage will last or not.

Positive feelings such as humour, agreeing, joy affection and interest show that the marriage is safe. If a couples conversations tends to be negative with feelings such as domineering, sadness, belligerence, defensiveness, disgust, stonewalling and contempt, the marriage is headed for trouble. 

By going through these studies I learned that marriage should not be hurried and requires commitment and a lot of maintenance. The evidence suggests that newly married couples should take time to strengthen their union before adding children into the picture.

Does a strong marriage make for better parents?

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