3 Vows To Think About Before Saying “I Do”
Weddings are about creating a perfect day, but wedding vows are about creating an ideal lifetime together, even through times of poverty, illness, and unhappiness. All three of these stressors are associated with marital distress, but are couples today better or worse off than previous generations? Here’s what researchers can tell us about the stresses facing modern couples.
1. Richer or Poorer?
On average, adjusted income per person in 1900 was less than $7,000 and now-days grew to over $40,000. Despite this large increase in riches, researchers found in a recent marital study that regardless of income level, arguments about money had a more damaging effect on a couple’s happiness. Couples rated disagreements about money as one of the most intense, negative, and consequential for their marriage.
2. Sickness or Health?
The Centers for Disease Control report that 64% of adults say their health is “very good” or “excellent” health and 7% of senior citizens report requiring assistance with their personal care. Couples marrying today can expect far better health than previous generations, and they can also expect to live longer. As I’ve discussed in my previous blog (link to first blog), couples can expect up to 60 years of marriage. That sounds like a long time, right? With the rise of chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there’s a good chance you may be a caretaker for a partner.
3. Better or Worse?
Studies found that the current lifetime risks of depression (20%), anxiety disorders (29%), and substance use problems (14%), which suggests that many couples will need to support each other during tough times. Fortunately, modern couples also have far greater access to effective treatments than previous generations. Although it’s important for couples to support each other during some of the worst moments, social psychologists have found that how couples support each other during the best times is just as important. When a partner shares a positive event and the other partner “capitalizes” on these moments by showing enthusiastic support, these couples are more likely to report higher levels of personal and marital satisfaction.
Although researchers find that stressors are associated with lower marital quality, marital quality is also associated with future physical and mental health. So, couples might view their vows as promises to be resilient, but also as promises to strengthen their relationship as a buffer against future stresses.