happy in marriage

At the start of the year, my wife asked me if I thought the last year was our best year ever.

I thought for a minute and then I said, “No, I wouldn’t say that.”

She returned with, “Why would you say that?  We have a ton of things to be thankful for.”

I said, “I guess I just thought about that we had this issue with my health, this one with the kids’ health, another relative’s health, a couple of career issues that didn’t work out the way I would have liked, and some issues with the vehicles.”

I don’t consider myself to be pessimistic by nature but I realized that I had been letting the negative things get in my way.  They were holding me back and causing me to lose focus on some of the great things that had happened in my marriage, my family, and in my life last year.  So, I have made an effort to look for the positive things in my life this year.

One of my goals early on with the blog has been to look at The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn.  So far, we have looked at some of the facts about how many people are getting divorced and found out that the real number is around 30%.  We also have seen that for many that aren’t in the higher risk categories for divorce that the number may be in the 10% range.

Today, we will move forward and look at another area where what you think you know might be wrong.  So what would your answer be to the question, “What percentage of couples do you think are happy in their marriage today?”  Would you guess 30%?  Would you guess 50%?  Would you guess higher or lower?  Would it surprise you to find out that the real answer is around 80%?  Would it also surprise you to find out that most married people today like being married to their spouse and would marry them again if they had it to do over.

While most studies have shown this number to be fairly accurate, Shaunti conducted her own study for The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages in which she asked 652 married couples, “Are you, personally, generally happy in your marriage these days and enjoying being married?”  The possible answers were Yes, Yes (most of the time), It depends (sometimes yes, sometimes no), not really, and no (I am really unhappy).   Shaunti was able to break down the results by looking at them couple by couple.  She found that 34% of the couples both answered with the first answer of Yes.  Another 37% of the couples either answered with a combination of the first two Yes responses or both with the second Yes response.  The other 29 percent had at least one spouse choose one of the bottom three choices to the question.  So, in summary she found that 71 percent of these couples would classify themselves as happy.  Most other nationally recognized surveys found that people that were happy in their marriage was in the 90% range.

More Good News:

  • A Marist poll found that 95% of married individuals said they married the right person.
  • The National Fatherhood Inititiative Marriage Survey (NFIMS) found that 93% would marry their spouse all over again.
  • NFIMS found that only 13% of married people have ever seriously considered divorce.
  • NFIMS found that 97% of married people expected to married for life?

What about the couples who would say that they are not happy?

The National Survey of Families and Households asked the question, “Does Divorce Make People Happy?”  They found out that most of the time the answer was no.  They found that divorced couples showed an increase in signs of depression and alcohol use compared to unhappy couples who stayed married.

They also found that if an unhappy couple stays with their marriage, the vast majority are happy within 5 years.  They found that 2 out of 3 unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married 5 years later.  Among people who rated their marriages as very unhappy, 8 of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married 5 years later.

Wrapping it up

I close by leaving you a statement from Shaunti that I think does a great job of summarizing the topic.

“In most cases marriage is the most amazing, delightful, and profound earthly relationship that any of us will ever know.  The truth is that although we can never look to marriage to make us happy, we need to be trumpeting the fact that when a couple chooses wisely and then takes the scary but wonderful step of commitment for life, they are much more likely to have that abundant relationship they are hoping for.”