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 divorce. 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 you manage the problems that inevitably arise? And how can you keep the spark alive?
Managing a Marriage
Tying the Knot
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 characteristics of the individuals it would formally unite.
Keeping the Relationship Strong
Every marriage brings challenges, often profound ones, and how a couple faces them could decide whether their relationship collapses or holds firm. Guarding long-term love may require jettisoning misguided beliefs or dysfunctional habits that partners can carry with them through the years. Divorce-proofing a marriage can also mean identifying and shoring up the strengths that make a couple work—both before and after the wedding—and reinforcing them with new skills and approaches to sharing life together.