Couples today are delaying marriage or opting out of it entirely. After all, it's a commonly accepted fact that one in two marriages fail. And does anyone really know how happy the "successful" ones really are? But what if that commonly held belief was wrong and it really is possible to be married and live happily ever after?
Well, not only is it possible, but it is happening. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the average marriage is weaker than marriages of long ago, but the best marriages are stronger and happier than those of days past. And what determines which one you will have is a lot easier than most people think.
The biggest factor between a great marriage and a less than stellar one is simply a function of how much time you and your spouse spend together. It is the key to having productive communication, emotional connection, and good intimacy. All of these things will be there if you spend quality time together.
I know. I can hear you. You're already overwhelmed by everything you have to do, where are you going to find more time. When the authors of the New York Times article examined what made strong marriages, they supported this fear when they stated that couples "can in fact achieve an unprecedentedly high level of marital quality—but only if they are able to invest a great deal of time and energy in their partnership." But if you read a bit further, the truth is much less scary.
Sociologists Jeffrey Dew and W. Bradford Wilcox, contributors to the New York Times piece, have found that spouses who spent "time alone with each other, talking, or sharing an activity" at least once per week were 3.5 times more likely to be very happy in their marriage than spouses who did so less frequently." So, in reality, having a great marriage doesn't require that much time or energy. But it does require acting intentionally and carving out some time to be together.
When people are trying to get a handle on their finances, one piece of advice they are given is to keep track of where their money is going. Many are often surprised by how their money seems to just trickle away in small amounts here and there. What happens to your time is not much different. It seems to get frittered away instead of managed as the finite resource that it is.
Time, unlike money, can never be replaced, and what you do with your time reflects what truly matters to you. I know you may not want to agree, but it is true at least in that moment and at least regarding your free time. Checking your e-mail, posting on Facebook or Twitter, watching American Idol or SportsCenter, even doing the laundry when you could be with your partner are all choices you make.
My guess is that when you and your spouse first met, spending lots of time together was a choice you both easily made. You still went to work and the laundry got done. The difference between then and now are the choices the two of you are making. You can have a great marriage if you are willing to make those choices again. So you can beat the odds of the average couple and their less than satisfying marriage, there's now evidence to prove it.
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