Is there anything new about marriage?

This morning Rita made the remark that we really know the basics of living together that produce good, happy long-term marriages.  The information is readily available.  Nevertheless, the news media constantly carry reports on new research about marriage and the supposedly important consequences of his behavior, her behavior, the benefits of marriage over being single and many other marriage-related topics.  This prompted me to do a Google search on “new research about marriage.” I have listed the first page of the search results below.

The National Marriage Project.org.  Research and Analysis on the Health of Marriage and Family in America .

Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/marriage-research/
As if the tax breaks and the cuddling weren’t enough, new research shows that married folks have yet another advantage over their divorced counterpart.

Marriage Study – Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/marriage-study/
They say a diamond is forever — but new research suggests the bigger the diamond engagement ring, the shorter the marriage might be. Economics pr.

A Wife’s Happiness Is More Crucial than Her Husband’s in …
news.rutgers.edu/research-news/…marriage…study…/2…
Rutgers University
Sep 12, 2014 – When it comes to a happy marriage, a new Rutgers study finds that the more content the wife is with the long-term union, the happier the …

Want a happy marriage? Have a big, cheap wedding
CNN‎ – 2 days ago
A new study found that couples who spend less on their wedding tend to have longer-lasting marriages…

Researchers name new snail species for same-sex marriage rights

What Makes a Successful Marriage
TheBlaze
Aug 20, 2014 – Unmarried individuals hoping to have a successful marriage can turn their attention to a new study that sheds some light on the potential steps …

In Brief | Knot Yet ReportKnot Yet Report
twentysomethingmarriage.org/in-brief/
The age at which men and women marry is now at historic heights—27 for …. Delaying Marriage Has Serious Consequences For Some, New Research Reveals

Ten Important Research Findings On Marriage. For Your…
Marrying as a teenager is the highest known risk factor for divorce. People  who marry in their teens are two to three times more likely to divorce than people who …

Happy wife, happy life? New study says ‘yes’ | Fox News
Sep 9, 2014 – For married couples, when the wife is happy with the marriage, the husband has higher life satisfaction, according to new research published in …

Without reading the associated articles, I can draw some conclusions about the effects of these studies and the way they are reported that indicate some of the silliness and misinformation they convey.  I find many of them silly and amusing but do have some concern that they seem to be offering simple, quick fixes to complicated relational behavior.

Some of the studies have information that is solid, but not new.  Example:  It has been known for many years that teen marriages are the riskiest. (To be fair, this one comes from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is intended to provide important information to people who are considering marriage and people who work with married couples.)

Often headlines are sensationalized and the articles don’t report the real results of the study.  Examples:

Want a happy marriage? Have a big, cheap wedding.

new research suggests the bigger the diamond engagement ring,  the shorter           the marriage might be.

The problem is that this kind of reporting suggests cause and effect that does not exist.  We humans tend to associate causal relationships to things that coincide in our lives.  There may be some common personality characteristics that have a slight effect on marriages, but certainly the size of the diamond or the wedding reception themselves have no direct effect on the outcome of a marriage.  Letting such things significantly affect behavior borders on superstition.

Often a look at the details of the research reveal only that there aren’t any real differences, e.g. The differences in the happiness levels or number of divorces in a group with the studied difference in characteristics is very small and has meaning only as a reported statistic, but tells you nothing about an individual couple.  Other things are vastly more important.

Many of these are so silly that I wonder that anyone would even waste time on the research.

All that said, many of the reports can be fun to read and make jokes about, especially when you take them as the silly and meaningless research results that they report.

One final comment:  “Delaying Marriage Has Serious Consequences For Some.”  It would have for us – if we had waited four years, we would have lost 4 great years of living together.

What do you think?  Leave a message below.

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Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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