In the midst of the high divorce rates, unfaithfulness, and dissatisfaction in marriages, the ways to a long-lasting marriage have been a burning issue. However, studies have established that 40% of married men and 35% of women have an extremely intense love towards their spouses in their 30-year or more marriages. Romantic love and faithfulness is what holds marriages together and makes them long-lasting; without such factors, a marriage stands high chances of collapsing (Acevedo, Aron, Fisher, & Brown, 2012). Nevertheless, the maintenance of romantic love has been an issue of concern in the psychological study as psychologists have not been able to speak with one voice in its regard. Some of them argue that romantic love reduces with time in marriage, especially after the birth of a child, while others suggest that the affair grows stronger as couples continue to live together.
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Theorists who believe that romantic love reduces with time in marriage go ahead and assert that married couples become exhausted, lack sufficient time for one another, and experience more disagreements after the arrival of their first child. The gap between them continues to widen in their marriage life, and this may eventually cause them to part ways (Acevedo et al., 2012). On the other hand, other theorists believe that married couples are responsible for the sustainability of romantic love in their relationships, thus long-lasting marriages. The strategies for a long-lasting marriage include providing personal fulfillment, maintenance of positive illusions, regulation of emotions, participation in mentally challenging activities, and cognitive self-disclosure.
Personal Fulfillment and Positive Illusions
Many people perceive long-term love partnerships as a goal-oriented affair for the attainment of specific rewards such as sex, sense of security, calm feeling, companionship, and minimal stress and anxiety among others. Marital personal fulfillment is achieved when married couples get what they need in their marriages (Tadinac et al., 2012). Instead of marring to serve their basic needs for livelihood and companionship, the majority of people now perceive marriage as a way of fulfilling themselves. Although this new point of view can assist in the facilitation of a long-term marriage, every partner must be determined and able to invest much of their resources in their marital affairs.
The maintenance of positive illusions, perceiving the other partner as having the desirable traits that one likes in a lover can be an effective strategy for maintaining a healthy marriage (Acevedo et al., 2012). During the initial periods of dating, people usually praise their partners and identify them as their best fits. This is partly as a result of the excitement that comes along with a new love experience or because there are some undesirable traits that one or both partners are hiding from each other. However, married people tend to show their real characters several months or years after getting married, and this may make their significant others to change their attitude towards them, thus increasing their chances of breaking up. Various types of cognitions such as selective attention, assumptions, expectations, as well as attributions, have a significant influence on how married couples perceive each other (De Sousa & Mehta, 2014). Therefore, maintenance and idealization of positive illusions by a married couple may be an effective way of making their marriage last for a long time.
Regulation of Emotions and Participation in Mentally Challenging Activities
The regulation of emotions is a vital factor that determines the success of the marriage. Spouses who can regulate their emotions are highly likely to be satisfied with their marriages, hence may remain intact for a long time. For instance, a wife who overlooks her negative experiences and behavior achieves greater marital satisfaction than the one who does not (Bloch, Haase, & Levenson, 2014). Therefore, spouses should sometimes disregard their emotions and maintain constructive communication while reconciling their differences to achieve long-term marriage relationships. Besides, other than physical and emotional attraction, participation in life challenging activities by married couples strengthens their love towards each other, increasing their chances of having a long-lasting marriage. For instance, when spouses enjoy doing new or challenging hobbies and activities together, they become more attracted to one another. Satisfaction in a relationship is not dependent on the amount of time that a married couple shares together, but the kind of activities in which they engage.
According to the Cognitive disclosure theory by Edward Waring, marital intimacy improves marriage relationships and their functioning. Since people have distinct preferences and needs, it is paramount for a couple to learn what each other needs in the marriage so that they can both remain satisfied (De Sousa & Mehta, 2014). Cognitive disclosure (revelation of one’s needs, beliefs, theories, perceptions, and ideas) makes partners know more about each other, in turn leading to an increase in their intimacy. Intimacy among couples makes them able to predict what their spouses like or need and feel closer and more attached to each other. Intimate spouses have the tendency of having successful marriages since they feel very committed to their matrimonial union.
The arrival of children, marital conflicts, among other challenges can be obstacles to a long-lasting marriage. However, with cognitive disclosure, mutual participation in interesting activities, attainment of self-fulfillment, maintenance of positive illusions, and emotion regulation, couples can remain together until the time death separates them. The analysis of long-lasting marriage and the psychology behind it has helped in the establishment of the ways in which married people can remain in romantic love for a long time.
Acevedo, B. P., Aron, A., Fisher, H. E., & Brown, L. L. (2012). Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7(2), 145-159.
Bloch, L., Haase, C. M., & Levenson, R. W. (2014). Emotion regulation predicts marital satisfaction: More than a wives’ tale. Emotion, 14(1), 130-132.
De Sousa, A., & Mehta, J. (2014). Gender identity and sex roles in marriage: A review. Indian Journal of Mental Health, 1(1), 7-14.
Tadinac, M., Bajoghli, H., Joshaghani, N., Hromatko, I., Jelic, M., & Kamenov, Z. (2012). Determinants of relationship quality: A cross-cultural study. Psychology Research, 2(1), 40-51.