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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Is Marriage Worth It?

Kim Kirkley

If you want to be really happy, marriage is virtually the only external change you can make to be the happiest you can be. Surprised? I was too. Let's face it. Marriage gets a bad rap. But, that's just wrong. In almost every way, people in secure romantic relationships just do better. Marriage is a shock absorber for life's inevitable bumps. With this week's news, we could all use a better shock absorber.

So how do you strengthen your marriage?

Marriage researcher John Gottman (www.gottman.com) has found that it takes an extra five hours per week for a couple to improve their marriages. Here is what they do:

  • When saying goodbye in the morning they find out at least one thing their partner will do during the day. (2 minutes x 5 days = 10 minutes)
  • At the end of the day they have a stress free reunion conversation. (20 minutes x 5 days = 1 hour, 40 minutes)
  • Touching, holding, kissing, grabbing - in a word, affection, imbued with tenderness and forgiveness. (5 minutes x 7 days = 35 minutes)
  • Date night - just the two of them not talking about the kids or troubles - it's all about their love. (2 hours once a week)
At least once every day genuinely admire and appreciate their partner. (5 minutes x 7 days - 35 minutes)

Why put in the work?

As Martin Seligman notes in Authentic Happiness,"Marriage is a more potent happiness factor than satisfaction with job, or finances, or community. In fact, there are few stronger predictors of happiness than a close, nurturing, equitable, intimate, lifelong companionship with one's best friend.' It is the married who have best withstood the privations of rural poverty, the Great Depression, and wars." Marriage gives us the three kinds of love that we need to feel happy: the love of one who comforts us (like a child for a parent); the love of one who depends on us (like a parent for a child) and romantic love (the idealization of a peer). Marriage is a distinct social relationship that brings all of these needs together, as one.

So, yes, marriage is worth it. And, the more you work it, the better it gets. On to a stronger shock absorber - a happier marriage!

Kim Kirkley
is a Celebrant and Modern Minister who joyfully performs personalized wedding ceremonies and offers pre/marital counseling. Kim is also the founder of the Happiness AttractionTM System. She hosts a monthly praise party on the fourth Thursday of every month. Please contact her at CelebrantKim@gmail.com or visit www.ourelegantceremony.com.