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LIFELONG HEALTH- Marriage in U.S. Is Occurring Later PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. David Lipschitz, Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 26 April 2012 02:20

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more and more couples are choosing to live together before getting married. From 1982 to 2010, the number of women below age 45 who lived with a domestic partner out of wedlock increased from 3 percent to 11 percent. Marriage is still occurring but later in life so that by age 40, 90 percent of women and 80 percent of men have been married at least once.

The number of younger people who haven't married is increasing. In 2010, 38 percent of women under 40 reported never having been married, compared with 33 percent in 1995. Black women were the least likely to be married (55 percent) followed by Hispanics (49 percent), Asians (39 percent) and white women (34 percent).

However, across the board, 58 percent of marriages still end in divorce. Divorce is least likely in Asian women (69 percent remain married) compared with 54 percent in white women and 37 percent for black women. Hispanic men are the most likely to stay married (70 percent), compared to 54 percent for white and 53 percent for black men.

The chances of marrying later are higher for those with more education and secure employment, both of which are strong predictors of a successful marriage. If you have a college or postgraduate education, the chance of remaining married after 20 years is 72 percent, compared to 41 percent for those without a high school or college degree.

Clearly, being raised by a single parent, living in a dysfunctional home or being raised in poverty affects a child's future and opportunity for success. Nothing is more important to the health, happiness and welfare of families than saving a marriage. Here are 10 steps that have been shown to make a marriage more likely to succeed.

Stay faithful. Nothing is more important than monogamy. Infidelity is the greatest cause of loss of trust and crashed relationships.

Talk and keep talking. Quite a few of the long-term couples I've known credit total communication for keeping them together. They have no secrets -- and I mean none. They share everything: concerns about work, issues with children, personal details about friends, and so on.

Learn how to argue and negotiate. Brutal fights, throwing insults and demeaning statements lead to deep scars. Deal with feelings first. It's easy to criticize or judge others for behavior we don't approve of or hammer them for personal or professional shortcomings.

To be a better man, think like a woman. Personally, I feel sorry for the macho man, the tough dude who takes no prisoners. He's always in charge. He's a "leader" who takes no flak from anyone -- including his partner. For most women, nurturing is the very essence of being connected and in love. They know how important it is to comfort and support, to be there in times of need. Men can learn a lot from women. True intimacy means sharing with your partner your vulnerabilities.

Love is more important than sex. Many men I know -- and I'd have to include myself among them -- are beggars when it comes to sex. There's nothing wrong with wanting sex and asking for sex. There's something very wrong with demanding it. Sex is not a "right." It's about giving, a shared joy that lifts both partners' spirits.

Relationships change, so adjust. Even 30 years later it seems as if it were yesterday that we started to date. Time flies. And every day the rules of the game change and so do we.

Every relationship takes work. Never take your partner for granted, work on being closer and be willing to compromise.

Love grows. It's an interesting thing. We tend to think of love and passion as the province of the young, but the opposite seems to be true. Surveys of couples indicate that those in their 50s have a much higher level of love and commitment than those in their 30s. Commitment counts.

Commitment doesn't happen all at once. For some couples, it might occur in months; others might not get there for years. But successful couples invariably take this crucial step.

Get help before giving up. I would never argue that a bad marriage is better than divorce, but always seek help before throwing in the towel on a relationship.