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Why do we get married?

By OnePlusOne, 16 June 2015 Behaviour change, Early intervention, Health, Marriage, Mental health, Strengthening relationships, Work-life balance

For some couples who tie the knot, marriage is the magic milestone of a successful relationship. For some, it’s just ‘the thing to do’, and for others, marriage perfectly encapsulates the notion of love and loyalty. But these are broad strokes, and we need solid data if we’re going to get a real picture of why people choose marriage. This month Northwestern University published a paper called ‘The Suffocation Model’[1] which gives us a bit of insight into said data – for the US at least. The authors have revealed that, over time, what people desire from marriage has changed; from helping spouses to meet their basic economic and political needs; to helping them meet their intimacy and passionate needs; to helping them meet their needs for autonomy and personal growth.

To put it simply, people now expect much more from a marriage partner and it takes time and effort to meet those expectations. Ironically, while marriages now require greater investment by the partners, people are now spending less time together[2] and are more stressed so that the time they do spend together is of a lower quality.[3] It’s this ‘squeeze’ that inspired the title ‘The Suffocation of Marriage’.

For married couples this may all seem a little bleak, but there’s an upside. The research reveals that although it is harder to be satisfied in a married relationship than it was thirty years ago, those who are in good relationships find that those relationships provide them with a large amount of happiness.

Our research at OnePlusOne has revealed the importance of ‘relationship work’; that is, making an effort to improve your relationship. We have found that, if even just one partner starts to change the way that they interact with the other, it can help to build much happier relationships. TheCoupleConnection has loads of insights on finding time for each other. The above research shows that it is worth making this effort as you will end up much happier!

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