Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

A happy marriage? Both simpler, and tougher, than we realize

If experience is the mother of wisdom, why aren’t second and third marriages more successful?

Take a look back on how little you knew when you first got married: heart full of romantic bromides, head convinced that the statistics don’t apply, because the two of you are exceptional.(Source: SITA/AP)

We all know what a bad marriage looks like, it seems, and if prodded could summon a parade of marital sins.

Insouciance for the other, or for the undertaking; disloyalty in the face of misfortune, misery or monotony; long silences; sulking and punishing each other for petty grievances. “A bleak and eternal contest”, as US writer Scott Turow soberingly put it, “with each partner holding the other responsible for his or her deepest unhappiness.”

We are less sure, however, when it comes to good marriages. It’s not just that the things driving couples apart are usually more apparent that the bonds that hold them together; it’s that achieving happiness is so much more than ticking the right boxes with each other (good communicator, easy-going, warm, etc.). If we knew what to do to fix our relationships or make better choices in our partners, presumably, we would do it.

A risky venture

Just how risky a venture is marriage these days? According to statistics, plenty – around half of first marriages in the US end in divorce, with the failure rate rising to two-thirds for second marriages and almost 75 percent of third marriages.

The greater fragility of successive marriages, by the way, is not an anomaly but goes to the core of the problem. Half of those first marriages break up despite all the glue holding them together (finances, social and professional standing, the emotional health of the family members). So how many of those marriages that do survive can be considered truly happy? How many couples stay together merely because separating is only marginally more painful? And for people who remarry, why is prior experience so little help to them in avoiding divorce once again?

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

In marriage, Czechs are no foreigners to Slovaks

25 years after the Czecho-Slovak breakup, people living in Czecho-Slovak marriages do not feel like they are living with a foreigner.

Illustrative Stock Photo

Foreign hackers attacked Slovak Foreign Ministry

The attack by the so far unknown perpetrators was targeted.

Illustrative stock photo

We protect ourselves from chemical and digital attacks

Calling out perpetrators of cyber-attacks is an important first step, but we must go further, writes British Minister for Europe.

Sir Alan Duncan, British Minister for Europe

Foreigners: Top 10 events in Bratislava Video

Tips for the top 10 events in the capital between October 19 and October 28, plus regular services in different languages, training, temporary exhibitions and highlights of the year.