6 Important Factors in Marriage Today

Published March 6, 1986.  A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised when a newspaper syndication company from California called me. They wanted to know if I would be interested in syndicating my newspaper column. I stated I was honored that they called and would be interested. They asked that I send some samples of my writing, which I did.

Nothing more happened until a week later they called back and said they would like to do a press-release pocket on my column. They asked for a resume, a photo, and one more unusual request.

They wanted six summary statements for what I thought were important matters in marriage today. I replied that I probably could write some statements and wondered when they had to have them. April or May?

The man from California laughed. “You people in academia have been spoiled with the luxury of time. I need them tomorrow!” He suggested I write them and give them to an overnight delivery company. Or I could call him and give them over the phone.

I joked with him for a minute or two. Meeting overnight deadlines is something university professors are not accustomed to doing. But the reality of the business world hit, and I assured him he would have the six statements within 24 hours.

I went home that evening, and here is what I wrote:

Statement 1: “I have come to believe that successful marriages are not determined by how much spouses are originally alike. Rather, they are attained by how many differences husbands and wives can tolerate in each other.”

Statement 2: “All too often we demand of marriage what we seldom demand of any other aspect of life – perfection. As students, few of us expect 100 percent on all our assignments. No adult always expects 100 percent return on an investment. Few cooks can make a perfect cake 100 percent of the time, no matter how experienced. And a baseball player who gets a hit only 33 percent of time is well satisfied. Why, then, do we always expect perfection in our marriage and marriage partner?”

Statement 3: “With the hectic pace of contemporary living, most married couples will roller-coaster through life experiencing times of exuberance and other times of discouragement. During stressful times, however, husbands and wives can and should recall some pleasant times they have shared together during the past. They could also review some of the marriage’s present strengths. When determining our “Marital Net Worth,” there is danger in dwelling only on our liabilities without also considering our assets.”

Statement 4: “I am constantly asked why men – husbands and fathers – should learn about marriage today. Some suggest it is an interest just for women. I then quote a study recently completed at the cost of several thousand dollars. One very interesting and significant trend was discovered. Approximately 50 percent of those involved in marriage at the present time are males.”

Statement 5: “In the past, successful marriages have been determined solely by stability – the absence of divorce. In contemporary marriage, however, we must add one more dimension when trying to define marital success – that of satisfaction.”

Statement 6: “Relatively few people, I believe, are aware of the fundamental changes that have occurred in marriage during the past few decades. It is little wonder so many marital relationships are in a constant state of chaos. As such, it would seem serious study of marriage today would be appropriate for committed husbands and wives.”

Do you agree with what I wrote? What would you have written if you had to write six summary statements about marriage within 24 hours?

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