Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Newlywed Study

The University of Rochester is going to study 800 newlyweds to find out just what makes couples work. For the article, click here. Here's my favorite quote from the article:
Rogge said he already has a general idea of what he'll find because of a doctoral dissertation he did on the same topic. "It boils down to what you learned in kindergarten: You need to be nice to each other," Rogge said. "It turns out it's not as important what the topic of the problems are. What's more important is how you handle those problems. Do you negotiate those things with your partner, or do they turn into major battles?" Rogge said too many married people act like singles, thinking only about what they want and need instead of being considerate of their partners. "America has been drifting toward a culture of entitlement, 'What can you give me? What can you do for me?'" Rogge said. "Good relationships, even the best relationships, take work, take selflessness."
Now, I've only been saying this in a slightly different form for at least 4 years. It looks something like this: "The reason couples living together before marriage is a bad idea is simple. When you are simply 'boyfriend/girlfriend' you solve problems as if you were a dating couple. That means if it gets too hard you can or will break up. If you live together, you continue to behave as a dating couple, and never learn to solve things like a husband and wife do. If you get married after living together, you have never learned to solve problems as husband and wife, and that makes divorce a high risk in your relationship. If you get married after living separately, then your attitude is different. You learn to approach problems as a husband and wife, not as a dating couple. You realize that there really is no other way out of this problem but to resolve it." Now, there are couples who do move on from the "single" attitude and perspective to have good marriages. I personally know a few of them. But the majority of couples I know or have read about who lived together first went almost immediately to divorce. I know this study isn't about living together before marriage, but I'm positive that many of these couples will discuss such a situation. The researchers would be remiss to overlook this issue. As an engaged man, I will be watching for the results of this study with interest. Anything that can equip me to be a better husband after God's own heart is worth the time spent reading and learning to apply.


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