How to Make Marriage Work

Marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that putatively lasts until death, but in practice is often cut short by separation or divorce.

Every marriage brings challenges, often profound ones. How a couple manages them often determines whether their relationship collapses or holds firm. Guarding long-term love may require jettisoning misguided beliefs or dysfunctional habits that partners have carried with them for many years.

"Divorce-proofing" a marriage can mean identifying and shoring up a couple's strengths and reinforcing them with new skills and approaches to sharing life together.

Over the course of a relationship that can last as many as seven or eight decades, a lot happens. Personalities change, bodies age, and romantic love waxes and wanes. And no marriage is free of conflict.

What enables a couple to endure is how they handle that conflict. So how do people manage the problems that inevitably arise? And how can couples keep the spark alive?

How Do You Decide Whom to Marry?

The choice of spouse is among the most important personal decisions most people ever make. While we can’t see into our romantic futures, the science of relationships does offer insight into the decision process.

Exploring these findings can help suggest when the time is right, what partners should know in advance, what matters most in weighing the decision, and why we are drawn to the type of person we might spend the rest of our life with.

But whether or not marriage makes sense ultimately depends on the characteristics of the individuals it would formally unite.


Mating, Relationships, Divorce

Monogamy vs. Polygamy

Most marriages are monogamous, involving a romantic commitment to only one mate. Polygamy is the practice of being married to more than one person at a time; men with multiple wives engage in polygyny, and women who have multiple husbands engage in polyandry.

In polygamous relationships, the primary or first wife, or husband, tends to have more power than the other, younger spouses. In some polygamous unions, the spouses live in the same household, while in others, separate homes are maintained.

While polygamy has become a popular subject for entertainment in shows like Sister Wives and Big Love, it is illegal in the United States, Europe, and most other developed countries, although it remains a practice in some other parts of the world. Because of this legal status, and controversies over elements of coercion and child marriage that sometimes occur in polygamous connections, such couples don’t receive the societal recognition, legal benefits, and tax breaks that monogamous married couples do.


Mating, Polyamory

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