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Marriage Advice – The Comprehensive Guide

In the TV show Sherlock, a distracted Sherlock says during John’s wedding, “Now, let’s talk about murder – sorry, did I say murder? I meant to say marriage.” While that was an honest (??) mistake on Sherlock’s part, there are many people out there who wouldn’t hesitate to equate marriage with murder! Now those are some truly bitter souls desperately in need of some comprehensive marriage advice!


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Suggested read: Marriage advice that has stood the test of time

Marriage & Divorce – the modern scenario

But why does marriage have such a bad rep these days? Weddings are more elaborate and expensive than ever, but marriage seems to have become very cheap. Yet, everyone and their sister seem to be getting married! According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of Americans marry by the age of 50. But it’s also true that 40-50% of these marriages end in divorce.

Today, an average American marriage is said to last 8.8 years. That means that kids born after marriage are under 8 years of age when their parents divorce. More than one million children in America go through a family break up every year. Apparently, the number of divorced women in America is also on the rise, with 15% of women today being divorced, compared to less than 1% in 1920!

The reasons being analyzed are many – women claiming their rights and refusing to be submissive, infidelity due to increased social interactions, infiltration of technology, or something as simple as lack of time. Whatever they may be, the future of marriage looks bleak, if things are expected to continue in this manner.

broken marriage

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Staying single

Not every girl out there is asking to ‘put a ring on it’; in fact, many would prefer it if you didn’t! And it’s not just women; Pew Research finds that the number of never-married Americans is at a historic high, with men more likely than women to never having said ‘I do.’ This is not to say that people aren’t having relationships – there is a large number of people who live and have kids together without tying the knot. Ongoing trends show that one in four of today’s never married individuals may never marry in the future either.

Another reason for avoiding marriage could be to avoid divorce. Yes, it does sound a bit like a chicken-and-egg scenario, but the fact is that divorces are very expensive affairs, and both people involved would rather just split, than go through the legal and financial hassles of divorce.

Why fighting for your marriage is worth it

In spite of all the stats that suggest that marriage is dying, an unexpected 68% of never married adults think that marriage is important, and that two people who plan to spend their lives together are better off marrying. So what is it about marriage that still has people recommending it? Here are some reasons why a marriage is good for you.

happy couple

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1. The Journal of Men’s Health claims that divorce takes a significant toll on a man’s life, and a divorced or unmarried man is more prone to depression and lifestyle diseases than a married man

2. Marriage is shown to increase a man’s lifespan by about seven years, and a woman’s by about three years. A married cancer patient’s risk of dying will be as low as a patient ten years younger

3. A study by the Journal of Family Psychology shows that good family relations are a greater factor in an individual’s happiness than his income

4. Children who witness their parents’ separation deal with a good deal of trauma, which is exacerbated in younger kids.

5. Research shows that kids born outside wedlock are much more likely to abuse drugs, engage in premature sex, and drop out of school

Suggested read: Marriage is more beneficial to men than women, suggests new study

6. The National Crime Victimization Survey has found that unmarried or single people are much more likely to be victims of crime; women four to five times and men four times more likely than their married counterparts

7. Married men have been found to earn more than their unmarried peers, nearly 40% more!! Married people also invest sensibly, generally, and are found to be wealthier by the time they hit retirement

8. This might sound idealistic but it’s true; marriage increases the sense of loyalty. People who live together have been found to cheat 8 times more than married couples

9. Marriage almost assures a couple’s mental health. Even if they claim that their spouses stress them out, research finds that at the end of the day, people feel better when they have a spouse to come home to

10. Last but not least, married couples are proven to have better sex lives. In spite of all the jokes about sex ending with marriage, married women are twice as likely as others to have satisfying intimacy with their partner, while 50% of husbands claim a satisfactory sex life with their wives compared to 39% of men who live with other women

Most common marriage problems

We know that in spite of all the benefits of marriage, spouses do end up clawing at each others’ throats. While the reasons can be any, some are more common than others. Here are the most common marriage problems seen in couples who’ve been married for any amount of time.

1. Money Matters

couple sorting out finances

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Relationship experts, Jenny & Rufus Triplett, say that even if a marriage can overcome infidelity, overcoming money hurdles is much harder. Most therapists agree that money is one of the top three reasons for marriages to break down, especially when there are diametrically opposing views about basic financial management like saving, spending, and investing.

2. Kids

couple fighting in front of their kid

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People often say that kids are supposed to bring a couple closer, but unfortunately, for many couples, the reverse is true. A person’s parenting style is usually a reflection of his or her own childhood, and when two people bring different styles into the equation, it results in conflict. Then there is the fact that men often complain about being sidelined once the baby arrives, and women are left cribbing about having to do the lion’s share of childcare.

3. Intimacy

couple dissatisfied with sex

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The reason intimacy is high up among the most common marriage problems, is because of a lack of communication. While communication is essential in any sphere of life, the very personal nature of physical intimacy makes frank and open conversation difficult, especially if the couple are from more conservative backgrounds. A lack of communication and unmet desires results in resentment, which breeds and ruins the relationship eventually.

Suggested read: Sexless marriage – the problem and the fix

4. In-laws

mother-in-law and daughter-in-law cooking together

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In spite of all the mother-in-law jokes floating around, the interference of in-laws in a couple’s marriage is no laughing matter. Research shows that a man’s or woman’s relationship with his or her in-laws can make or break their relationship. When a man is close to his in laws, his chances of divorce are decreased, but when a woman is close to her in-laws, the chances of divorce increase!

5. Disrespect

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Everyone wants to feel loved, valued, and respected. And we all expect it at least from our family, and the one person we’re spending our lives with. But when these basic needs aren’t met, cracks begin to form, and the partnership collapses. Respect for another person extends to a respect of his beliefs, her dreams, and each other’s values.

6. Selfishness

couple arguing

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While giving each other space and maintaining one’s individuality are essential, marriage doesn’t have place for selfishness. When spouses begin to focus purely on their self-interests and completely undermine the other’s well-being and wishes, it undermines the other person’s position in the relationship and causes a lot of hurt. It is also selfish when one person blames the other for all the problems in the relationship, putting the responsibility of fixing it on them too.

Best marriage advice tips

The list above gives an idea of what not to do in a marriage, but what should one do to sustain a long lasting relationship? The solutions are surprisingly simple, yet hard for many couples to put into effect. But that’s why they say that marriage requires work! Here are the best marriage tips from relationship experts across the world.

1. Teamwork

couple holding hands

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The first and foremost thing for a couple to realize is that they are now part of a team. This completely changes their point of view when a problem arises. Once they agree that it’s them versus the problem and not one against the other, they’ll be able to work together and overcome obstacles in a much more effective manner. In a marriage, it is essential to put aside one’s selfishness and think in terms of the team’s best interests. When working as a team, they’ll respect and value each other’s dreams and values too, and this will help both spouses grow and thrive in the marriage.

2. Open communication

couple talking11

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A great many problems within couples like money, sex or kids are because of a lack of honest, open communication and unrealized expectations. A person enters a marriage with certain ideas about topics like money, and he expects his spouse to echo him thought for thought. Unfortunately, that never happens and the fights begin. Most early marriage problems can be resolved with an open, non-judgmental style of communication.

3. Acceptance

couple hugging3

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Many people accuse their spouses of trying to change them, to make them someone they’re not. When a spouse does something like that, it sends out the message that they don’t value or respect their spouse the way they are, and this is extremely hurtful. We want to be loved and accepted the way we are, and any less seems to be settling. Throwing out unrealistic expectations and truly loving the person in front of you is what marriage is all about.

4. Prioritizing

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A couple is not just a team, they are mates. They are supposed to be each other’s Most Important Person, and everyone else should come after that. A spouse should stand up for the other against anyone and they should be able to feel a sense of belonging to the other person. This is the reason every marriage advice manual out there prescribes ‘date nights’ and ‘quality time together.’

5. Letting go

couple talking

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Couples fight, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s healthy in fact, if done the right way. The important thing to remember is to let most of it just go, and to pick your battles wisely. Not every tiny thing needs to be discussed and dissected in detail. Letting go isn’t about winning or losing to another person, it’s about making your marriage the ultimate winner.

Suggested read: The ultimate list of tips on what makes a good marriage

What to do when nothing works

It’s possible that in spite of making efforts on both sides, things still don’t seem to work. That’s okay too, since it just means that both spouses need a bit of perspective. An objective view helps greatly here, as the couple gets to look at the marriage from a different angle. This is where marriage counsellors or relationship therapists can help.

couple talking to a therapist

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Many couples hesitate going to a counsellor for many reasons. Some find it too intrusive, some don’t want to be told that they’re wrong, and some feel like counselling will be the death knell for their relationship. But the truth is that counselling is very helpful for couples who want to take their relationship seriously. Of all unhappy couples who go to marriage counselling/family therapy, 70% report having happy marriages, and only 12% claim to still be trapped in unhappy marriages. A counsellor can also offer alternative solutions to damaging behaviors by either spouse and they might also be able to unearth any deep-rooted fears that both spouses are unaware about.

All the marriage advice in the world points to just one thing – marriage is work!! If you become lazy and let it slide, it will slip out of your hands. Even when you start putting in effort, you won’t see instant results, but you’ll begin to feel a lightening of the heart and a clearing of the air. If you hang in there and think positive, it’ll be the most enriching and fulfilling relationship of your life and you’ll be glad you did the work

Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Article Name
Marriage Advice: What Not To Do
Check out the best marriage advice guide that is based on marriage problems, advice, and related marriage counselling.
Fabida Abdulla

Fabida Abdulla

Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum stay-at-home mom to her boisterous 6-year-old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading, and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes. []