Dr. Russ Buss asks? Will Mark and Jenny Sanford make it? If the publicly humiliated marriages of Clinton, Spitzer, and Edwards are any guide, the answer is more likely – yes?
Monday is Dr. Russ Busster day. Dr. Russ spent all of last week blogging about fostering long term marriage with “relational optimism.” However, with the continuing public saga of Mark Sanford and the split of Jon and Kate (as in, "Jon and Kate + Eight), Dr. Russ wants to help you “Busst-Up” any pessimism about the current strength of the institution of marriage with these Dr. Russ Bussters.
The following ten “Bussters” are drawn from the Sunday, June 28, 2009 New York Times article: “Marriage Stands Up for Itself.” According to the article: “The marriage bond is far stronger in 21st century America than many assume . . . recent trends . . . suggest that the institution itself has become more resilient in recent years, not less so.”
1. Marriage and infidelity are like the body and the flu – coexisting without killing each other off. Surveys find the majority of people with a cheating spouse remain married to that person for years afterward. In any given year, 10 % of married people say they’ve had sex outside the marriage – survey’s find 66% - 75% remain together.
2. Remember that oft quoted stat that 50 % of marriages fail? Turns out that stat was based on marriages from the 1970’s. The 10 year failure rate of college and non-college graduates is down to 16% for marriages in the 1990’s.
3. Generational long term marriage is possible: Men and women born in the 1930’s, married in the 1950’s, have the highest marriage (without divorce) rate of any generation – 96%
4. Age matters: people who marry after age 25 are less likely to divorce than those who marry earlier.
5. Individuals are now more likely to marry someone like themselves with a similar educational background.
6. Society appears to have adjusted to the change in traditional roles of “husband” and the “wife.” The former destabilizing factor - women contributing more financially, men domestically - is now accepted and stabilizing.
7. “The relationship is less about dividing economic and domestic duties and more about shared interests and mutual happiness” – “kindred spirits more able to weather a storm.”
8. As Dr. Russ noted last week: “Getting used to each other’s stuff” is a huge investment and with so much in common and learned together: “a blip is just a blip” . . . “easier to get over when spouses share history, goals, children, and strong bonds to family and community."
9. "Weaker relationships appear to be ending before the couple heads down the aisle"; washing out due to increased “selection pressure for stronger relationships.”
10. Despite a 50 year onslaught against the institution of marriage – liberal divorce laws, diminished stigma of divorce, and now a multitude of internet temptations - Benedict Carey and Tara Parker-Pope, of the New York Times, tell us that many millions are “shrugging-off” and “working-through” not only outright infidelity, but strong suspicions of it.
Bottom Line: Optimism in marriage appears to abound as couples are choosing to avoid a “learned helpless” state and instead choosing to overcome tough problems-- make the marriage work through “hard work.”