We hate to be pessimistic, but love alone isn’t enough sustain a marriage. To truly make a marriage last, research suggests you need to be smart and conscientious in how you love your partner.
To that end, we’ve gathered 10 marriage-related facts every engaged couple should know about. Take those rose-colored glasses off and read on.
1. Sharing the housework = more sex.
Sharing is caring ― and sharing household chores could make for a really hot sex life. A 2015 study from the University of Alberta found that couples who divvy up cleaning tasks reported higher relationship satisfaction and got busy more often than couples who left it to one partner.
Apparently, when men in the study felt they were making fair contributions to household chores, the couple had more sex and each partner reported more sexual satisfaction. Now we understand why Mr. Clean dances like this:
2. The honeymoon phase may be a myth.
Don’t get too hung up on the hot-and-heavy phase fizzling out: the honeymoon phase may be more of a myth than a reality. According researchers at Deakin University’s Australian Center on Quality of Life, couples are happiest after their first year of marriage. What’s more, newlyweds reported having a lower happiness score than couples who had been married for a long time
Lead researcher Melissa Weinberg attributed the findings to couples having a “wedding hangover” ― a feeling of sadness once the wedding is over and the actual marriage begins.
3. Most couples wait six years before going to marriage counseling ― but you should go sooner.
The average couple who visits a marriage counselor has been struggling for about six years. By that time, some therapists say the damage has already been done. It’s much smarter to go as soon as you start to get serious, when things between you and your S.O. are going relatively smoothly, Ryan Howes, a psychologist in Pasadena, California told HuffPost recently.
“It’s OK to go to counseling when things seem ‘fine’ so that you are more resilient when they aren’t,” he explained. “Even the strongest marriages will encounter tough times eventually, and it’s good to be equipped when they come.”
4. Eye rolls could cost you. Contempt is one of the top predictors of divorce.
Get a handle on those snarky remarks. According to marriage researcher John Gottman, contemptuous behavior like eye-rolling, sarcasm and name-calling is the number one predictor of divorce.
For forty years, Gottman and his research team at the Gottman Institute have studied couples’ interactions to determine the key predictors of divorce — or as he calls them, “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” Contempt is the number one sign, followed by criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling (emotionally withdrawing from your partner.)
5. Cuddling is a game-changer in a long-term relationship.
Big (and little) spoons, rejoice! A 2014 study out of the University of Toronto found that even a small amount of cuddling can produce substantial increases in sexual and relationship satisfaction, especially among women and parents of young children.
6. Arguing over finances early on doesn’t bode well for the marriage.
It may not be the sexiest premarital convo but talking about money issues now rather than later could save you a world of heartache. In 2013 study, researchers at Kansas State University found that early finance-related arguments are the top predictor of divorce. What’s more, this was true across income and wealth levels. That’s your cue to pour a glass of wine and start talking financial histories and money expectations.
7. Men really benefit from getting married.
Research has suggested that men, in particular, benefit from married life. A major survey of 127,545 American adults found that married men are healthier than men who never tied the knot or whose marriages ended in divorce or widowhood. They also live longer!
8. A few arguments every now and then are actually good for your marriage.
If something isn’t sitting right with you and your partner, get vocal. In 2012, Florida State University researchers found that bursts of arguments can actually be beneficial to relationships. Arguing helps signal to your partner that certain behaviors ― cough, leaving the dishes in the sink, cough ― are unacceptable, said lead researcher James McNulty.
9. Divorce may be contagious.
We don’t want to ruin your double date plans but the people you surround yourself with matter quite a bit. A study published in the “Social Forces” Journal in 2013 found that divorce can work like a social contagion, spreading among friends and families. If someone in your social network ― say your coworker BFF or family friend ― splits up, the statistical likelihood of ending up in divorce court yourself increases by 75 percent.
As the researcher explained, “Individuals who get divorced may influence not only their friends, but also their friends’ friends as the propensity to divorce spreads.”
10. Marriage is good for your heart.
The jury is still out on whether single people or couples are healthier, but research suggests getting hitched is at least heart healthy.
In one recent study out of New York University’s Lagone Medical Center, researchers found that married men and women had a five percent lower chance of cardiovascular disease compared to single folks.
Why’s that? It may be because married people have better emotional support and deeper social ties to family, which in turn produces lower blood pressure and general heart health.