Secret to a happy marriage: Fewer previous partners followed by a big wedding

  • Family
  • Saturday, 23 Aug 2014

The Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur was filled with more than 100 tables to accomodate the guests and each table was decorated with red roses and fresh red grapes

A study reveals that big weddings and few partners could be the formula for a happy marriage.

A big wedding celebration preceded by fewer romantic relationships for both the bride and the groom could be a positive sign that they will be happy together years down the road, according to researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) in the US.

Those are the two principal findings in a new report from the National Marriage Project at UVA entitled “Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have To Do With Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults?”

More experience before getting married associated with lower marital quality, says study. – Filepic

“In most areas, more experience is better, you’re a better job candidate with more experience, not less,” says study co-author Galena K Rhoades, of the University of Denver.

“When it comes to relationship experience, though, we found that having more experience before getting married was associated with lower marital quality.”

The researchers, however,

can only speculate as to why this may be true, and the meat of their report takes the form of a discussion between friends as they reflect on their lives and those around them.

For example, they say that the multiple break-ups that come with experience could embitter individuals, and alternating partners leads to comparison and ultimately a fruitless search for perfection.

They note that marriage involves leaving behind other options, which may become more difficult with experience.

Deciding to get married rather than "sliding" into marriage after a long period of cohabiting could also be a factor in a healthy marriage. We tend to ritualise experiences that are important, says expert. - Filepic

Also taken into account was a mounting trend of “sliding” into events such as sex, marriage and children that once were thought of as life-changing.

Those who had lived together before marriage, for example, were asked to what degree they had “slid” into cohabitating, and the more strongly respondents categorised the move as a decision rather than a slide, the greater their marital quality later on.

“Another way to think about ‘sliding versus deciding’ is in terms of rituals,” says co-author Scott Stanley, research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, as well as a senior fellow for both the National Marriage Project and for the Institute for Family Studies in the United States.

“We tend to ritualise experiences that are important. At times of important transitions, the process of making a decision sets up couples to make stronger commitments with better follow-through as they live them out.”

Even after controlling for socio-economic discrepancy, the study authors noted that marital bliss increased incrementally in accordance with the size of the wedding.

At the highest end of the spectrum, 47% of those whose wedding consisted of 150 or more attendees reported high marital quality.

Data analysed for the study came from the Relationship Development Study, an ongoing US study based at the University of Denver and funded by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

This study recruited over 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 who were unmarried but in a relationship between the years of 2007 and 2008.

During the next five years, 418 of these individuals got married and the authors followed them to analyse the quality of their marriages in relation to each partner’s romantic history prior to the marriage. – AFP Relaxnews

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