Is there a secret to a long-lived and happy marriage? All the marriage guidance and relationship councilors say that there is. They identify this as talking in a way that makes each partner in the relationship fully aware of the other. It is only by being aware of each other’s needs and feelings that the partners in a marriage can truly give each other focus and affection.
However, it seems that the magic ingredient of talking, listening and being aware of each other’s feelings may come more easily to some people than others. And here there really may be a secret to why some people find success in a long-term marriage easier than others.
It seems that people who grew up in a large family are far more likely to have a marriage that survives down the decades than people who grew up in a small family. The reason for this may be startlingly simple. People who grow up surrounded by siblings are used to dealing with the different, contradictory and difficult demands of their various brothers and sisters. This gives them good practice in the give and take that helps a marriage to endure through all kinds of difficult personal situations.
Growing up surrounded by others also means that people from large families tend to worry less about personal space and are more aware and able to deal with others’ moods in the moment. This means that they are often better at not letting misunderstandings and bad feelings build up than people who are used to having a lot of private space and time in which to mull over things.
It also seems that people from large families are more likely to marry. It may be that this simply reflects an in-built desire for companionship.
Many people fear being on their own. People who grow up surrounded by others all the time find it particularly hard to be on their own as they step in to adulthood. Obviously, this positive desire for companionship is a great help when it comes to seeing a marriage survive through the years. Interestingly, these people may also be better at having a wide friendship circle of people who are genuinely invested in the happiness and success of the marriage.
Having close friendships that endure through the years provides the partners in a marriage with a lot of opportunity for conversation and social activity and, perhaps more importantly, with friends who truly care about both partners’ happiness and wellbeing down the years.
So one of the hidden reasons for rising divorce rates in countries where family sizes are shrinking may simply be that fewer adults are equipped by their childhood to deal with the demands a spouse or life partner puts on them.
Middle children in a family tend to be great talkers, peacemakers, communicators, negotiators and team players. This is because they grow up in the midst of so much relationship complexity and are well versed in seeing a situation from multiple points of view.
As family sizes drop to one or two children, this experience of life is fast disappearing in many societies. The impact of this changing demographic shows up in the work place as well as in divorce rates. People who are not used to dealing with others can find it a struggle to adapt to workplaces that demand a lot of teamwork for success.
So if you do not yourself come from a large family and think it unlikely that you will meet a potential life partner who does, the best advice for judging the long-term prospects of a likely marriage is to look to the other person’s workplace.
If they are engaged in work that is solitary, have a care. If they are in work that requires a high degree of interaction with others and a great deal of change, pay attention. But forget all this if there is no friendship or love.
The most successful marriages really do shine with friendship and affection as well as love and care. Love and affection will always trump family size or work patterns as the magic behind happiness and fulfillment far into the future!
More from Richard here http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/lifestyle/lifestyle-opinion/