Divorce-proof your wedding

Scientifically backed relationship advice could help make marriage work

Samantha Joel’s wedding vows have citations. The psychology student at University of Toronto developed 10 promises based not on religion or tradition but on scientific research. She’s not alone -another psychology grad student posted her sciencebased vows at Scientific American in December. And a study examining how factors like wedding size and cost relate to the length of a marriage was published recently in The Atlantic.

Scientifically backed relationship advice seems to be getting popular. But can data really prevent divorce? “I believe research can inform our personal decisions better than anecdotes, advice from individuals or intuition,” said Joel. The scientific method is “the best way to answer questions,” she added. Her 10 promises, which she and her husband read at their wedding, include a pledge “to support and protect your freedom.” This one is based on research showing that a lack of autonomy in relationships can make people less happy. The couple also promised each other to “show you, every day, that I know exactly how lucky I am to have you in my life,” inspired by data showing that people who feel appreciated are more appreciative in return, and are less likely to break up.

Katherine Hertlein, a professor of marriage and family therapy at the University of Nevada, thinks understanding research about relationships can help couples. They might benefit, for instance, from knowing about work suggesting that “a certain level of egalitarianism” in relationships is healthy. Also potentially useful: Research on how people’s concept of an ideal relationship affects their real lives. If you “don’t experience your relationship as living up to that ideal,” she said, “you’re not going to be as successful.” Less applicable is data on factors like size of the wedding. “If small weddings are correlated with shorter marriages, other factors may be at play. Maybe some couples invite fewer guests. And when couples have problems with their own family of origin, those couples are less likely to be successful,” she said.

Andrew Francis-Tan and Hugo M Mialon, the authors of the wedding study, also said that their results may not reveal anything about the causes of divorce: “Perhaps those who have more expensive weddings are simply the ones that tend not to be the best match for each other to begin with.”

Source: The Times of India


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