A Sociologist’s Insights: 5 Tips for Healthy and Long-Lasting Relationships and Marriages


Statistically, divorce rates are rather low at present. Compared with the 1950s (a period which many people compare contemporary family life with since it was supposedly more idyllic), the current divorce rate of 40-50% seems very high. The collective feeling that relationships and marriages don’t last like they used to is dominant in many people’s minds. We witness breakups and divorces in our families, circles of friends, at work, etc. quite frequently. And we ask ourselves, “How do I make sure this doesn’t happen to me?”

Here are five concrete tips how you can increase your marriage’s and relationship’s life expectancy:

1. Don’t take yourself too important!

Remember that you are committed to maintaining a bond between you and your partner. Egotistic values often stand in the way. Historically, the relationships and marriages we find ourselves in have come a long way. Stephanie Coontz researched the history of marriage and found that emotion wasn’t the basis for entering a marriage in former times. Nowadays people usually enter relationships or marriages because of a variety of emotions, such as love, intimacy, lust, trust, etc. Egotistic motives sometimes take the upper hand in our relationships in that we want our needs satisfied, receive love and attention, and know that somebody cares about us. However, it can’t always be about what you want. Rather, it should be about what’s best for the bond between you and your partner. In reality, we see many relationships and marriages break apart day in, day out because both partners are generally dissatisfied or face insurmountable challenges. We hope that the same fate will not strike us, and while individuals witness breakups all the time, they often minimize the likelihood it could happen to their relationship or marriage as well. If you manage to negotiate individual desires and needs while maintaining the bond between you and your partner, your relationship has a good chance of surviving.

2. Let the dads be dads!

Mothers still tend to exclude their husbands or partner from infant or child caring tasks such as changing diapers, preparing formula, choosing clothes, etc. Therefore, many fathers face a very difficult challenge in today’s society. They are expected to not just bring home the dough, but to also take active roles in their children’s lives. Research shows that many modern fathers still do not partake equally in childrearing tasks. One could say that this is so because they simply refuse to do so. However, the fathers’ efforts to be that active parent are often more or less unconsciously undermined by the mother. Women often feel that they can tend to the infant more effectively. Hence, they don’t let the fathers do their share. For a child, however, it matters more how involved both parents are, not so much who can bathe them better.

3. Forgive the unforgivable

Infidelity is as old as relationships between human beings. Still, in the past 50 years we have seen an unprecedented social demand for partner fidelity. The romantic marriage, tied to sexual exclusivity, is the most institutionalized form of this expectation. Many marriages break apart because one partner, not automatically the man, by the way, cheated and the better half finds out about it. Without a chance for rehabilitation, the partner is often condemned. However, sometimes it is worth digging deeper into the motives, especially when the bond has been intact otherwise. Cheating can be a sign of frustration or feelings of worthlessness within one’s own relationship or marriage. To walk away from this situation would be the same as giving up on Mac & Cheese based on having one bad dish at a particular restaurant. Maybe the chef was having a bad day, or maybe the ingredients weren’t as fresh. Here, we meet the ego again. Our feelings are hurt, our pride diminished, and our conviction of the truthfulness of the bond distorted. But what about the partner who we claim we love? Is love not to forgive and to accept the other person’s flaws? Or is this criterion only valid for as long as our degree of comfort in the relationships isn’t incriminated?

4. Be realistic about the human nature: everybody has secrets.

Complete honesty in a relationship will not maintain over a longer period of time. We all lie day in, day out. To protect ourselves and the ones we care about and love. Human beings are egotistic beings by nature. Love requires sacrificing of the self, as society, religion, and culture teach us. But is this indeed possible? Balancing the delicate relationship between egotism and couple welfare, many people fail. Experience tells us that people do have indeed secrets; things they do not want to share with anyone else. However, there is also the expectation that couples are completely honest with each other. Otherwise, a true and real relationship is supposedly not possible. Let’s face it: the likelihood for someone to lay everything on the table, be it about the past or the present, is not 100%. The more we acknowledge that our partners keep secrets that they do not want us to know, the sooner we realize that it is too much to ask for total honesty, the better our relationships will fare. An old saying goes, “Don’t ask questions to which you don’t want to know the answer.” A secret is a secret precisely because of that.

5. Communicate clear messages

Communicating clear and precise messages is probably the most difficult thing to do. In relationships we often develop an indirect style of communication because some things might hurt the partner when we say them directly. An example might help you better understand the problem. Partner A comes home and Partner B says, “I’ve had such a headache all day long.” Partner A could understand this message in different ways. Maybe Partner B is trying to ask for some attention, in that Partner A gives them a massage, brings out the aspirin, or runs some hot bath water. Partner B could also respond by saying, “Yes, my day has been horrible as well.” It is not easy to do the right thing in this situation, especially if the partners don’t know each other too well. Say exactly what you want and expect. If you want your partner to run you some hot bath water, ask for it. Maybe offer to join you in the bathtub. If you have a headache and can’t get up to reach for some aspirin, ask your partner to get some for you. The clearer we communicate our messages, the easier it will be for our partners to respond to the situation in a way that we approve of.

Source by Dr. Andrea S Dauber-Griffin

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