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When it is an issue of culture or race, the more understanding between the couple, the higher the marital success rate. "Different cultures endure vastly diverse moral, ethical and value foundations that influence their perceptions of individual, family and societal lifestyle. When these foundations are operating alongside the foundation of different cultural roots, as in intercultural marriages, problems and disagreement oftentimes occur." (McFadden).
Religion is extremely important to some people and completely insignificant to others. However, it is a huge factor that can greatly determine the success or failure of a marriage. Studies show that people who are from different religious backgrounds have a higher divorce rate. This may be due to the difference in beliefs. When faced with two different religious backgrounds, many couples will choose one religion over the other; however, this generally tends to be short lived because after practicing one religion and building beliefs over many years, it is difficult to change. (McLachlan)
Religious beliefs about marriage may also play a role in the success or failure rate of a marriage. The Bible is very clear about divorce. It is important to remember Malachi 2:16: "I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel." According to the Bible, marriage is a life long commitment. "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, God laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people's hearts, not because they were God's desire (Matthew 19:8). (Holy Bible)
Finally equality and commitment is a strong factor that can build a marriage or destroy it. When there is a strong sense of equality and commitment in a marriage, the success rate is generally higher. A marriage is designed to be a union of two people. It is a commitment that says that the couple is going to work together in sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, and in the good times and in the bad times. A marriage is a strong commitment on each partner's side. However, if that commitment is broken, then the marriage is more likely to head for divorce. In order to have a successful marriage, each partner has to be willing to take a little and give a little.
Equality is also very important. In a successful marriage, not one partner is more important than the other. Equality means sharing a life equally. What belongs to one partner, also belongs to the other partner. When there is a lack of equality in a marriage, arguments occur, disagreements happen, and in the long run, the marriage ends up in divorce court because the couple cannot come to a common understanding on equality.
In conclusion, there are several factors that can determine the success or failure of a marriage. Anything from age and race to religion, beliefs, and money can and will affect a marriage both positively and negatively. Each marriage is unique. What works or does not work for one couple, is not the same for the next couple. The factors that researchers have looked at are the most common factors among normal marriages. As society changes over time, researchers will continue to look for new factors and reasons why marriages either succeed or fail. Nevertheless, as of 2008, the U.S. divorce rate is lower than it has been since the 1970s. The U.S. is currently in a recession. Times are hard and money is short. Therefore, the lack of money to pay for a divorce may yet be another factor that is influencing people to stay married and try to work things out. More and more people are seeking marriage counseling in hopes of fixing their marriage when problems arise and this also may be contributing to the decreasing divorce rate. Marriage will always occur and divorces will occur for various reasons. Nevertheless, researchers will continue to search for answers to why a marriage succeeds or fail.
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Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, by P.McLachlan. Retrieved December 13, 2009 from http://www.catholic-pages.com/marriage/sacrament.asp.
Bellows, Amy. Good Communication in a Marriage Starts with Respect. June 22, 2007. PsychCentral. Retrieved December 13, 2009 from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/good-communication-in-marriage-starts-with-respect/.
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