The month of January has come to be known as “divorce month.” The reason for this designation is that during the month of January, there is typically a 33 percent increase in divorce filings. It is unclear exactly what the reason is for this, but observers opine that couples who are in trouble tend to stay together during the holiday season at the end of the year, putting off the inevitable until after festivities have ceased. Apparently, this trend dates back as far as the Middle Ages. One researcher of medieval church courts found, even dating back to the fourteenth century, that a third of litigation heard by the courts was initiated in January. These courts had the authority to dissolve marriage.
What Makes for a Happy Marital Relationship?
While much focus is placed on the causes of divorce, less attention seems to be given to the question of what makes married people stay together, or, even more importantly, what makes them happy in their marriage? It’s an established fact that married people report a higher level of satisfaction with their lives than unmarried people. However, the prevailing view has been that the satisfaction is short term and that it trails off in later years. Also, it is commonly believed that people who are happier are the ones who tend to marry anyway, so the data is skewed on the contribution of marriage to personal happiness.
A recent study by Canadian researchers found that a major factor of happiness in marriage is friendship with your spouse. Analyzing the data from two British population surveys and the World Gallup Poll, researchers found that couples who were married to their best friend reported a happiness level that was twice as large as those who did not consider their spouse to be their closest friend. The study found that happiness levels for both marrieds and singles follow a similar pattern of high levels in young adulthood, lower levels in the forties and fifties, and increased levels later in life. But, even after controlling for satisfaction levels before marriage, married people consistently reported that they were happier than singles. In addition, the midlife dip in happiness is less for married people than for unmarried individuals. So, contrary to the belief that social or financial status or an innate tendency towards a good outlook are the prime ingredients of happiness in marriage, this research indicates it is friendship with your life partner that matters the most. The researchers believe the data shows that marriage is a type of “super friendship.” (This explains why individuals who go through a divorce often describe their level of grief comparable to what they would feel upon the death of a loved one.)
Other social science research indicates that couples who stay together credit hard work and dedication to each other, to the marriage, and to childbearing; positive communication styles; realistic expectations; and similar attitudes towards important issues and beliefs. Such commitment results in high levels of intimacy and marital happiness. The bottom line seems to be that good marriages involve a high quality of friendship, hard work, and being able to communicate.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding marriage or divorce, James S. Cunha is an experienced Palm Beach Family Law Attorney who has achieved a “Superb” rating of 10 out of 10 on Avvo.com, a website that profiles and rates lawyers. The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. serves the divorce and family law needs of clients in the South Florida Counties of St. Lucie, Hendry, Martin, Palm Beach, Okeechobee, Miami-Dade, and Broward. Call today for a consultation toll-free at 1 (800) 558-1227, or locally at (561) 429-3924.