Are you getting excited about the Royal Wedding yet?
(Even if you’re not, Brits have an extra day off work to look forward to!)
Well here are some tips for them that come from a rather surprising place – a recent edition of Social Science Research! (no, really) It contains a thorough analysis of some of the most comprehensive research ever done on marriage and divorce. Professor Wilcox from the University of Virginia scrutinised all previous research before delving into six years worth of surveys of married couples. He came up with some fascinating answers to those elusive questions, ‘What makes for a happy marriage?‘ and ‘Why do some people divorce?‘
I fear Kate and Wills have a copy of ‘Social Science Research’ sitting in their magazine rack- so I have summarised for them six top tips on how they can improve their chances of having a long and happy marriage…
6 Top Tips for Kate and Wills
Tip 1: Don’t base the marriage on emotions
Of the thousands of surveyed couples, Prof Wilcox discovered that when marriage was viewed solely as an expression of feelings were – partners were much less likely to stick together in the long run.
Curiously, Wilcox also noticed that very romantic couples were more satisfied with their marriage but had higher divorce rates in the long run.
Kate and Wills better have more in common than physical attraction then…
Tip 2: See marriage as having a deeper meaning
Men and women who thought their marriage as was important in either a religious or cultural way were much more able to weather the storms of life together.
If the royal newly-weds see their union as permanent and having a deep significance they will set off on a good footing.
Tip 3: Agree on Religious Beliefs
At least outwardly, Kate Middleton and Prince William both profess Anglican beliefs – which may be just as well.
Believing in a religion like Christianity and attending Church has a protective effect on marriage. Partners who share a religious belief tend to have happier and more stable relationships. Conversely, couples who fundamentally differ on their world views find it more difficult to stay together are more likely to split.
I suggest Kate and Wills spend some time chatting over the finer points of their personal beliefs to maximise their chances of having a stable relationship.
Tip 4: Do different things
It might not sound very politically correct, but the research showed that couples who adopted different family-work roles had a higher-quality, more stable relationship. This is called “gender specialisation” and would mean Kate and Wills need to make decisions as to who does the public speaking and who looks after the chihuahuas…
Tip 5: Get supportive friends
Kate’s friends seem to be somewhat effusive about her in the press. But both Kate and William are going to need more than back-slapping – they will need a network of friends who will support not just them, but their marriage. Having a social network of people who see the institution of marriage of something that is valued results in more successful, longer-lasting unions.
Tip 6: Hang out with other married people
The Prince and Princess may have to forgo some of their friendships with singletons. Spending time with other married couples – especially those who have been wed for a long time – will help them get used to being married.
Psychologically, having role models who demonstrate ‘good marriage values’ helps legitimise the institution of marriage. This effect will help the newly-weds establish the values of married life – love, mutual support and faithfulness.
I guess spending too much time with Dad might not be a great thing…
Thanks for reading – comments and feedback are warmly welcomed!
Related post: The Science of Love!
Not a royalist? You might be interested in the ‘Not the Royal Wedding’ Street Party!
Wilcox, W., & Dew, J. (2010). Is love a flimsy foundation? Soulmate versus institutional models of marriage☆ Social Science Research, 39 (5), 687-699 DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.05.006