love and marriage

Because I have had some experience with marriage, lol  and a lot of experience with divorces in my family I was very interested in researching this topic. 

       Each of us requires a strong base of support to fight illness, and achieve and maintain optimal health. For the majority of people, and throughout one's lifetime the family serves as this base of support. Infants and
children brought up in a strong and healthy family environment will be more likely to have"increased quality and years of healthy (and happy) life" ("healthy," n.d.,p.1) I believe it would be a vital area in the maternal, child and infant health to promote change.

       Studies have shown that women and men in a marriage are generally better off than those that are single, living together or divorced (Driscoll, 2009). A compilation of current research concerning the effect of marriage on health collected by the U.S. department of health and human services found that
"married people are generally healthier than unmarried people as measured by numerous health outcomes" ("The effects," 2007, p. 1). Recent studies have found that marriage improves mental health, lessens the need for higher cost medical services and increases the probability of having health
insurance. Another important finding is that children raised with married parents have better health as adults ("The effects," 2007). Mental health effects of marriage include a measureable decrease in depression while in situations of divorce there is often seen an increase in depression with longer lasting
effects. More research is always necessary, but these findings were based on the compilation of forty research studies collected between the years 1990 and 2007("The effects," 2007) .

 "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother" Theodore Hesburg
 n.d p.1) 

      Two parents raising a child are at an advantage over one as they have twice the resources.(Driscoll,2009). It is commonly accepted that children are more likely to do better with a fathers involvement and worse without it (Driscoll, 2009).  Unfortunately, divorce increases the chance that the father will be less involved in a child's daily life. A 2003 study found that on average four times per month is the number of times a divorced father will see his child and twenty percent of children have no contact with their father just 3 years after a divorce (Huges,2009). In 2008, "four in ten American children (were) born to single women and if we add) unwed mothers together with custodial moms ...over half of these children will be raised without the biological father..."( Driscoll, 2009, p.1). The effects of divorce on children have been extensively studied. These studies have found no correlation between childhood depression and divorce. What has been seen however, is a large number of children describing their childhood as "lonelier, less protected and more stress-filled."("divorce rates'"n.d., p1) A University of Illinois study concluded that as a group, children from divorced families developed more problems than children from intact families. Some of the risks were found to be: Parental loss as previously mentioned, economic loss as divorce tends to bring more financial hardship, more life stress, and more or an increase in conflict between the parents. (Huges, 2009). The overall findings were that a parents' divorce often causes considerable distress, painful memories and a feeling of helplessness. This is often combined with the feeling of a loss of control which may continue into adulthood.
       In early America, divorce was uncommon and difficult to obtain. A divorce would be granted only in cases of abuse, abandonment or adultery. In 1880 fewer than 5% or 1 in 21 marriages ended in divorce. It wasn't until the 1960s that divorces began to become common. This may have been attributed to a
number of factors including increased marital expectations, more women working outside of the home, the rebirth of feminism and the passing of the 'no fault divorce' law which in most states grants a divorce without having to assign blame to either party ("Divorce rates," n,d.), According to the center for
disease control between 1970 and 1996 the number of divorced persons in our population more than quadrupled from 4.3 million to 18.3 million("Divorce rates," n.d., p5). There is an often cited CDC prediction that in the future 50% of the marriages now taking place will end in divorce(Divorce
rates,"n.d.p2). The U.S. marriage rate in 2008 per the CDC was 7.1 per 1,000 of the total population with a divorce rate of 3.5 per 1,000. In 2008 in the state of Wisconsin alone there were 31,586 marriages and 17,067 divorces ("Fast 5tats," 2008) Divorce affects all socioeconomic groups. It is difficult to find a true
breakdown between ethnic groups but the divorce rate is higher in Caucasian Americans than in African Americans,("Divorce rates," n.d., p 3).Single parent families and divorce are common in American society today and can be seen across all ethnicities and economic classes. Marriages are at higher risk of
divorce in the early years. Research indicates a couple's assessment of the quality of their marriage starts to decline through the first four years. Then plateaus for a few years and starts to sink again in years 8-10. Ten percent of marriages can be expected to end after the first five years, by the tenth year
another 10% are expected to divorce ("Divorce rates," ri.d., p 4).Barbara Bartlein, (2003,p.xix)a RN , MSW, and marriage counselor labels us as having a "Culture of divorce with disposable marriages in a throwaway culture."
       Many of the studies centering on divorce aim at uncovering what is causing so many couples to have marriage problems in the first place. One theory is that our society now has two working parents. Arlie Hochschild, a sociology professor researching two career marriages points out that our households have
become "over taxed, overburdened and overwhelmed,..women have gone into the labor force but not much else has changed_..marriage then becomes the shock absorber of these strains" (Blackman,1995,p 6). Scientists at the University of California have been studying 32 families over a four year time period.
They have found that it is not uncommon for these modern day couples to share three jobs: two careers and parenting. This study has found that the stress of our modern day lifestyle appears to have a negative impact on family interaction . In the families studied, the hectic schedule of their daily lives
appeared to take precedence over communication and connection. Family conversation, playtime, courtesy and intimacy appeared to be in many instances and too often forgotten. A surprisingly common theme was how indifferently family members treated each other even after being separated
from each other for the day and how little unstructured time families and individuals had (Djansezian,2005)_ It is possible problems begin when the marriage becomes the main absorber of the many stressors of daily life and the individuals do not have the necessary communication skills and
connection needed to diffuse this stress.

        Communication has been found to be the one skill that is vital and necessary to a healthy relationship and marriage. The coalition for Smart marriages and family education explains that there will always be some conflict between two individuals, but communication
is the key and improving communication skill is a learned ability ("Divorce," n.d,). Research has found that with every couple even those who are happy and committed there are at least ten areas of incompatibility. These couples have learned to manage their disagreements and can continue to care for
each other despite their differences. They also work harder than the average couple at developing empathy and understanding of each other's point of view. Studies done by the Smart marriage group and other researchers have found that the number one predictor of divorce was avoidance of conflict.
Learning communication skills to bridge the gaps in incompatibility can improve relationships and foster better empathy and understanding between couples. ("Divorce,"" n.d.) John Gray,(1993) a PhD and relationship counselor wrote a popular book titled Men are from mars, women from Venus explaining
the problems men and women have in relating to one another. Though it may be considered "pop psychology", the book has been one of the New York times bestselling books. Though the book generalizes and in reality each person is an individual the books aim is to foster better understanding
and communication between couples, The book puts men in a category where abilities and solutions are rated highly. They like to work independently to solve problems and may desire silence for the process only communicating if there is a point to be made. A man's instinct is geared more to look after himself.
For women, however, feelings and cooperation with interaction is rated highly. They desire assistance and look to others for suggestions. They enjoy talking and listening unconditionally. A woman's first instinct is to look after others above herself (Gray, 1993). There are other differences Mr. Gray points
out but If anything, the book teaches us that there are different ways individuals or groups deal with situations and the only way to really know another's point of view is to ask.

        There are many different ways couples can learn to improve their communication and thus relationships. When faced with marriage problems the first solution many couples think of is marriage counseling. This can be done through a church, a marriage mentoring program or a counseling service. There are also marriage based retreats. Some are faith based and others are secular. Marriage Encounter is a Catholic faith based retreat which teaches a technique of loving communication over a couples weekend ("What is marriage" n.d. ). Other programs are more secular, for instance: PAIRS or Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills which is a curriculum which "teaches participants skills to find answers and solutions to the natural challenges of human relationships directly with each other"("The Mission," n.d.). Another effective program is entitled Retrouvaille which is French for rediscovery. "The main emphasis of the program is on communication in marriage between husband and wife. It gives... (Couples) the opportunity to rediscover each other and examine (their) lives together in a new and positive way" ("What is a Retrouvaille," n.d,). There is also a federal government program with a focus on families and marriage. The federal government has replaced the Aid to families with dependent children with a program called Temporary assistance for Needy families. A part of its purpose is stated to "encourage the formation and maintenance of two parent families" ("Office,"n.d.p.4). This program, which was
started in 1996 and renewed in 2006 provides state and federal funding for promotion of healthy marriages. Some of the areas of concentration include premarital and marriage education, marriage and relationship skills programs, and marriage mentoring programs. There are also budgeted funds for
public advertising campaigns focusing on the value of marriage and healthy relationship skills ("Office," n.d.).

 "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." Robert Fulghum ("Smart," n.d.)

       A research study from the National institute of Health found that "women whose parents divorced are more likely to enter marriage with relatively lower commitment to and confidence in the future of those marriages potentially raising their risk of divorce" (Whitton,,p.789). Previous studies have
found a strong intergenerational continuation of divorce. It appears living through a parent's separation and divorce can distort a child's view of the permanence of marriage, The National Institute study described women as being more relationship orientated; therefore the breakup of their parents'
marriage may have a stronger and longer lasting effect on their relationship views and actions. As evidenced by the responses to my survey, women also appear to be more likely than men to be open to sharing their thoughts and experiences with each other and to help out with advice in marriage and
relationship issues. This finding was consistent to the generalization by John Gray that women look for assistance and appreciate suggestions from others to solve problems.

       In conclusion couples faced with two careers, children and the task of maintaining a healthy marriage can find themselves without outside support systems. Couples must be vigilant to protect and put their marriage first while remaining open to outside assistance. There are no easy answers or simple solutions. Each circumstance, couple and individual are unique but finding ways to keep marriages, and thus families strong and intact should be a priority for our society. Nancy Low, a clinical psychologist states as with life marriage is and always has been hard work. It is not static. It is comprised of triumphs
and setbacks. There is no obvious course to follow, only persistence. As each person changes with life the marriage needs to adjust. Knowing this may help more couples stay together ("Divorce rates," n.d,).

If there is improved communication skills, time set aside for one another and the acceptance that change is inevitable divorce might become less common and less of an option. Joshua Coleman, a marriage counselor and psychologist writes "the airline warning to put on your own oxygen mask before
you place one on your child also holds true for marriage
" (Coontz,2009,p.4), Marriages have to become the first priority for couples. When this happens our children, families and society will be able to reap the benefits of strong long-lasting marriages.

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 above cartoons from

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