It seems like I've been having lots of discussions about marriage and relationships lately. I guess it's that time of year. So when I saw a link to The State of Our Unions report, I couldn't help but read. It's a little lengthy (116 pages), but definitely worth your time. (Plus there are a lot of graphs, so it's probably more realistically like 60 pages.)
The State of Our Unions monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America and then produces an annual publication. The report is all about happiness in marriage and parenthood. I took a class in college on that subject, but it was mainly from a religious perspective. This report focuses on the current research and gives strategies for improving marriage and family relationships. It discusses factors that contribute to happiness in marriage and family life, such as college education, money, and religion.
I love that the article's focus is on how marriage and family can create happiness.
Sometimes I think it's hard to read an article like this because I end up focusing on all the areas where I come up short. But I try to take the information and then find one area where I can improve. Obviously none of us have perfect marriages and families, but we can look at the recommendations and make the decision to apply at least one thing we've learned.
It's difficult to summarize all of the ideas and research. I definitely recommend downloading it. (You could even download it to an e-reader if you wanted.) But if you don't have the time or endurance to read the article in its entirety, here are a few quotes that I found interesting:
Nevertheless, the message of this report is not that young men and women today must simply "settle" for a passable marriage and family life. . . . Rather, young men and women need to understand that paths exist in society that allow for successful navigation through the contemporary challenges of marriage and parenthood. This report suggests that, for many young adults, the best path for forming and sustaining a family is a hybrid marriage that incorporates features from the newer soul-mate model with features from the older institutional model. p. 48
What happens outside of the bedroom seems to matter a great deal in predicting how happy husbands and wives are with what happens in the bedroom. p. 36
Husbands and wives who score high on the generosity scale--both in terms of giving and receiving in a spirit of generosity--are significantly more likely to report that they are "very happy" in their marriages and less prone to divorce. p. 38
Relationships require face-time to flourish. . . . We found that, for most married parents, time spent alone with one's spouse and time spent with one's children both predict higher levels of marital solidarity. p. 44
The institution of marriage itself provides a wealth-generation bonus. . . .Working as a couple, individuals can develop those skills in which they excel, leaving others to their spouse. p. 79
A central purpose of the institution of marriage is to ensure the responsible and long-term involvement of both biological parents in the difficult and time-consuming task of raising the next generation. p. 87