Family and Friends matter in marriage

© Djembe |

This is another post based on information from When Baby Makes Three, the 2011 State of Our Unions a report from the National Marriage Project.

The report found that friends and family are a mixed bag, both helping and hurting marriages depending on their input. The study cited other research which has found that one strong predictor of divorce is having many friends and family who have divorced. In this study, those who said both their friends and family supported their marriage had significantly higher changes of saying they were very happy in their marriage: 23 percentage points higher for men, and a massive 32 points for women. For women this “high level of social support” was the fourth of five predictors of not being prone to separation or divorce.

For both happiness and divorce resistance, this item was more important for women than for men. This does not mean it’s unimportant for you, but it does mean you should think about how your wife fairs in this area. If your bride is getting good, positive marriage support from her family and friends, she will feel better about your marriage, and will be far less likely to divorce. On the other hand, if she has a lot of family and friends who are divorce and/or negative about marriage in general or your marriage in particular, she is going to be less happy and more given to divorce. I see several action points in this:

  • Promote her having time with those who have strong marriages and those who support the two of you as a couple. Time away from you with these kinds of people is an investment in your marriage and your future.
  • In similar fashion, work at spending time with men who have good marriages, and especially with those who support your marriage.
  • Try to limit her contact and time with those who are down on marriage in general, and especially those who are down on your marriage. 
  • Set the example by limiting your time and contact with those who are down on your marriage. Don’t just do it, tell your bride you are doing it, and let her know why.

I know that the limiting part of this can be tricky, especially with family or long-time friends. Reducing contact with a friend is painful, and limiting contact with family can cause problems. In both cases, you are properly putting your marriage ahead of your other relationships. 

In this series:

Family and Friends matter in marriage – This page

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