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Successful Marriage Conditions Essay

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The family is considered the basic unit of the society. It is where a person acquires his/her basic characteristics and habits. They say that the personality of an individual is very much affected by the family background. Once classical definition is that a family “is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction; it includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, owned or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults” (Murdock, 1949). One important thing to note is that family starts with marriage – the marriage of two couples who are ideally in-love with each other and promises a lifetime of commitment.

Marriages that last many years provide a context in which researchers can explore how the experience of relationships changes across time and how social norms surrounding relationships influence relationships. Research indicates that the success of long-term relationships is related both to intrinsic aspects of the relationship, such as liking one’s partner as a person (Bachand & Caron, 2001), and to factors that are extrinsic to the relationship, such as norms and values related to the sanctity of marriage (Laner, Lauer, & Kerr, 1990). There is also evidence that not all long-lasting marriages are happy or successful. For instance, Dickson (1995) found that some couples in long-lasting marriages experienced high levels of independence in their daily lives and reported high levels of dissatisfaction with their marriage. These couples remained married because they believed that social norms dictated that they should do so. Research that has compared younger and older couples in order to examine how life-stage influences relationships has revealed that older couples tend to be more formal in their interactions and more restrained in their expression of affection than younger couples (Sillars & Wilmot, 1989). Additionally, the conversations of older couples are typically marked by communal themes and by a more congenial interaction style (Sillars, Burggraf, Yost, & Zietlow, 1992).

One way that we might better understand the experience of long-term marriages is by considering descriptions of past relationships. Harvey, Agostinelli, and Weber (1989) argue that accounts of past relationships help us see how individuals make sense of relationships; they found that explanations for why relationships failed were related to expectations individuals had for what was important in future relationships. Similarly, Surra and colleagues (Surra, Arizzi, & Amussen, 1988) argue that accounts of past relationships can provide insight into the knowledge structures that influence how people understand general classes of relationships (e.g., friendship versus dating), how partners understand a particular relationship, or how they see their role in a relationship. Thus, it seems clear that reflections about past relationships could provide insight into people’s experience of relationships and could reveal how relationship stories reflect social/historical expectations regarding relationships. Research by Weber, Harvey and Stanley (1987) examining the experience of widows and widowers following the loss of a spouse suggests that individual’s reflections about their relationships may be an important source of insight for researchers wishing to learn not only about grieving but also about the nature of relationships.

Kaslow and Hammerschmidt (1992) examined the factors that contribute to what they call “good” long-term marriages. They defined “good” marriages as those in which couples reported high levels of satisfaction with their marriage. They found that couples in these marriages reported high levels of commitment to the partner and to “marriage as an ideal”; high levels of trust; open, honest, “good” communication; shared values and easy “give and take” between partners; and a deep, abiding love for one another that was enriched by friends and family. Similarly, Fennel (1993) found congruence between spouses in the factors they identified as contributing to their long-term marriage. Overall, the most frequently noted factors were commitment to marriage, loyalty to spouse, friendship with spouse, strong moral values, and commitment to sexual fidelity. Laner, Lauer, and Kerr (1990) asked spouses to indicate what factors they felt had contributed to the success and stability of their marriage. Respondents indicated that their success rested on being involved in a union with someone they liked, being committed to the marriage and the partner as an individual, and maintaining a sense of humor.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1995) examined successful marriages of ten or more years to reveal what leads to a “good marriage.” They identified a set of couple types based on driving forces or unique aspects of the relationship that were central to the couple. They found that successful couples shared a sense of their relationship as unique and that they tended to tell the story of their relationship in a way that highlighted how the relationship provided romance, tradition, protection, or a combination of these elements.

Meanwhile, Dickson et al. (2002) studied perceptions of conflict in later-life, long-term marriages. Based on interviews with 25 couples, they concluded that partners in these marriages tended to minimize the relevance of conflict to their current relational situation. In other words, they said that conflict did not occur often, and they preferred to label their conflicts as “disagreements.” Additionally, these couples pointed out that their experience of conflict was much different later than earlier in their marriage. Most of these couples believed conflict had been prevalent and active in earlier stages of the marriage, but had declined later in the marriage. This research suggests that couples’ patterns of conflict change over time. Dickson et al. note that this may be the result of changes in the relationship and of cultural expectations regarding the conduct of marriage.

Research comparing actual interactions of younger and older couples showed that the conversations of older couples are typically marked by more communal themes and by more congenial interaction (Sillars, Burggraf, Yost, & Zietlow, 1992), but the communication style of a small group of older couples was marked by almost “constant bickering.” Thus, while long-term marriages can often produce smoother, more cooperative interaction, not all couples experience such benefits.

It is particularly interesting to consider how partners’ views of their relationships align with cultural ways of making sense of relationships. Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1995) found that successful, long-term marriages tended to capitalize on cultural views of marriage, for instance by emphasizing romance. But they also found that partners tended to be able to sustain a sense of the uniqueness of the relationship between individuals. By contrast, unhappy long-term marriages seem to be held together by social constraints, with partners in these relationships reporting that they stayed in the marriage because it was the “right thing to do” or because divorce was not an option (Dickson, 1995). Sillars and Wilmot (1989) proposed that the nature of the relationship reflects factors intrinsic to the relationship, cohort effects related to the historical context in which the relationship develops, and aspects of life-stage development. Thus, when examining long-term marriages, which typically coincide with later life stages, we see not only how individuals have negotiated their own relationship but also how cultural views of relationships have defined the relationship. One example of this from Sillars and Wilmot’s (1989) research is that older couples disclose less and demonstrate more restrained expression of affection than younger couples.

It is also worth noting that societies have some type of stratification system where members are classed or ranked such that some have more kudos and power than others. The family (where the married couple is of utmost importance) serves as an agent of stratification because it conveys at least initially its status to the individual. Upon birth, the child acquires his family name and a place in the society. The standing of his family determines his position in the hierarchy. Socialization also helps maintain class placement. Still, the family and kin group would still play the biggest part in helping members maintain or improve their status.

The family (bounded by marriage) desires to protect its members’ interest and welfare. It provides for the necessary protection measures of its members. The family also provides not only physical but also psychological protection and support. Kin solidarity and close relationships last over time and distance. This is evidenced by the fact that responsibility and obligation is continued despite separation of family members.

The family also serves a purpose for the other institutions. It has economic functions important in production, distribution and consumption. It is also a catalyst for political stability. When family members agree on something, the support of its family members is assured. It is also important in religion and education.

Nowadays, married couples and their families have different needs. Though the necessities remain, added requirements are to be considered. There are more people to interact with, and more diverse personalities. Media is already an important factor that affects the minds of children and more so on developing individuals. As individuals grow, they have to adapt to their environment and current situations. The current demands of the society are focused on technological advancement and people are more career-oriented. Individuals now live in a more dynamic and larger ecosystem. They have to maintain their mutual dependencies on a larger scope. People at the present time are fast-paced and quick thinkers. More than ever, time is gold. The values the family inculcates in its members now are more diverse, and scholarly. Education is valued more to be a successful individual. The changes in the field of sciences are also factors for the shifting in the practice of family ecology.

In totality, family members, especially the married couple, should learn to go with the flow and not be restricted on the conventional ways of facing current and future concerns. This would help in maintaining the continuity of human existence.

Indeed, there are no boundaries when talking about the ways on how to maintain or achieve successful marriage. But one this is for sure, the old adage ‘it takes two to tango’ still remains true. No marriage will be successful if not both of the partners (the male and the female) are working for it. if the couples believe do not believe to the sanctity of their marriage and do not do their share to make the marriage works, then it will never be lasting.

References

Bachand, L. L., & Caron, S. L. (2001). Ties that bind: A qualitative study of happy long-term marriages. Contemporary Family Therapy, 23, 105-121.

Dickson, F. C. (1995). The best is yet to be: Research on long-lasting marriages. In J. T. Wood & S. Duck (Eds.), Understudied relationships: Off the beaten track (pp. 22-50). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dickson, F. C., Hughes, P. C., Manning, L. D., Walker, K. L., Bollis-Pecci, T., & Granston, S. (2002). Conflict in later-life, long-term marriages. Southern Communication Journal, 67, 110-121.

Fennel, D. L. (1993). Characteristics of long-term marriages. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 15, 446-460.

Harvey, J. H., Agostinelli, G., & Weber, A. L. (1989). Account-making and the formation of expectations about close relationships. In C. Hendrick (Ed.), Close relationships (pp. 39-62). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Kaslow, F. W., & Hammerschmidt, H. (1992). Long term “good” marriages: The seemingly essential ingredients. Journal of Couples Therapy, 3, 15-38.

Laner, R. H., Lauer, J. C., & Kerr, S. T. (1990). The long-term marriage: Perceptions of stability and satisfaction. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 3, pp. 189-195.

Sharlin, S. A. (1996). Long-term successful marriages in Israel. Contemporary Family Therapy, 18, pp. 225-242.

Sillars, A. L., Burggraf, C. S., Yost, S., & Zietlow, P. H. (1992). Conversational themes and marital relationship definitions: Quantitative and qualitative investigations. Human Communication Research, 19, pp. 124-154.

Sillars, A. L., & Wilmot, W. W. (1989). Marital communication across the life span. In J. F. Nussbaum (Ed.), Life-span communication: Normative processes (pp. 225-253). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Surra, C. A., Arizzi, P., & Asmussen, L. A. (1988). The association between reasons for commitment and the development and outcome of marital relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 5, pp. 47-63.

Wallerstein, J. S., & Blakeslee, S. (1995). The good marriage. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Weber, A. L., Harvey, J. H., & Stanley, M. A. (1987). The nature and motivations of accounts for failed relationships. In R. Burnett, P. McGhee, & D. Clarke (Eds.), Accounting for relationships (pp. 114-133). New York: Methuen.

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