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In the opinion of Strong, DeVault and Cohen (2010), when it comes to issues marriage, opposites do not often attract. Instead, partners tend to seek each other out on the basis of shared characteristics. It is these shared characteristics that allow couples to foster greater understanding as well as empathy while facilitating or enhancing communication. Hence in that regard, a disconnect of sorts between the personality of couples may be taken to be an indicator of marital failure. Further, still on personality factors, Strong, DeVault and Cohen (2010) note that a clear example of a disconnect between the personality of marriage partners may be evident where one partner has a highly rigid personality. Such a personality may in addition to frustrating conflict resolution also end up clouding negotiations. Similarly, a partner who has a dominating personality may not be willing to cede some level of control so as to give their marriage partners room to operate and make decisions. On the other hand, where both partners possess a caring and forgiving as well as an understanding attitude, chances are that their marriages will in the long run be more stable, happy and long-lasting.
Next, yet another predictor of marital success or failure closely related but significantly different from the point above is the ability to openly communicate as well as identify emotions. Over time, the ability to effectively and concisely communicate emotions has been said to differ by gender. Here, men are deemed to be less likely to both express their own emotions as well as connect with emotional expressions by their marriage partners. When this disconnect is chronic, it may adversely reduce the chances of marital success and hence occasion marital failure. It is important to note that this disconnect may lead to criticism which I earlier on in the text identify as one of the four warning signs presented by Gottman. For instance, failure of one partner to effectively and in a timely manner communicate his emotions could occasion a feeling of resentment which builds up over time. Thus in such a case, it is not unusual for couples to rope in previous happenings into a current argument thus effectively ignoring the current issue at hand.
Relationship factors also play a significant role in either enhancing or weakening the chances of marital success. It is important to note from the onset that relationship factors include the various relationship and premarital interaction aspects that impact on marital success. In this case, the ability of a couple to handle stress, accept each other's shortcomings as well as view things from a common point-of-view largely depends on some relationship factors including but not in any way limited to the couple's ability to maintain humor, affection as well as goodwill in the relationship. Of equal importance in this case are problem solving-skills. It can however be noted that conflict in a relationship does not always have to be an indicator of marriage failure. In the opinion of Celello (2009), it is not the kind or number of problems faced by married individuals that distinguish a successful marriage from that which is not. Rather, success in marriage is largely determined by the resources to handle such issues the couple has at its deposal. Resources in this case could be taken to include the ability to forgive, express emotions as well as cede ground. In regard to forgiveness, even the Bible (Ephesians 4:31,32) does emphasize on the relevance of the same. In Celello's (2009) own words, "the resourceless people are overcome by their problems; the resourceful overcome them." Hence with that in mind, the ability of couples to effectively identify, solve as well as manage their problems could have an impact on the success or failure of their marriage. Further, as Strong, DeVault and Cohen (2010) note, "the presence of conflict early in marriage does not indicate that the marriage is doomed…" in fact, the authors are of the opinion that newlyweds have a tendency to overlook problematic issues particularly during their first year in marriage. This the authors attribute to what is popularly regarded to as the honeymoon effect which they go ahead to define as the high probability of newlyweds overlooking issues identified as problematic soon after marriage. Other relationship factors which may have a significant impact on either the success or failure of most marriages include the expectations each partner has regarding marital roles and duties as well as issues relating to trust and intimacy.
Yet another indicator or predictor of marital success or failure is cohabitation. According to Cheal (2008), "couples who live together prior to marriage are more likely to see their relationship break up than are couples who get married without cohabiting." This assertion is largely contrary to the popular belief that living together before marriage gives individuals a better chance to further understand each other thus effectively reducing chances of marital disturbances going forward. One of the reasons that have been floated for the higher chances of marital turbulence for those who engage in premarital cohabitation is the perceived minimal commitment to the institution of marriage. In this case, those who view marriage as the beginning of their conjugal life tend to exhibit greater commitment to marriage as an institution and hence may tend to be more resilient even when the relationship experiences some challenges along the way.
It can be noted that more often than not, the ability of a man to embrace his partner's influence and the ability of a woman to tone down her approach as she seeks to assert her influence can be predictors to a successful marriage. This is to say that most marriages stand a chance of success if both partners become willing to cede some level of control. For instance, a man may instead of fleeing or "shutting down" at the first sight of conflict try out some of his spouse's suggestions. This should however not be confused with mindless compliance to either partner's suggestions. Ceding some level of control in this case is simply respecting and giving audience to either partners viewpoints. This is a key predictor of marital success.
Apart from the key pointers identified above relating to either marital success or failure, many other issues may conspire to influence the direction a marriage takes. For instance, couples who are on the same page when it comes to life philosophies have a higher chance of sticking together in a satisfying and exiting marriage union. By being on the same page on life philosophies, I mean being able to reach a common ground on a wide range of critical topics including but not in any way limited to faith and ethics, child rearing as well as finances. Failure to reach a common ground on such issues is a sure recipe for resentment and misunderstandings going forward. Further, the relevance of communication when it comes to enhancing marital success and averting marital failure cannot be overstated. Keeping the communication lines open in marriage has a real impact on how couples resolve problems. Gottman (2007) captures the importance of communication when he categorically states that in regard to the four horsemen of the apocalypse i.e. warning signs of a marriage headed for failure, what occasions the same to be regarded "deadly to a marriage is not so much their unpleasantness but the intensive way they interfere with a couple's communication."
In conclusion, it can be noted that most marriages fail as a result of a constellation of factors, some of which I identify above. It therefore follows that the identification of these factors should be taken as the first step towards a more successful and secure marriage. Given the level of interest the topic of marital success and failure has elicited in both the research and counseling field, it is hoped that going forward, a sustained…[continue]
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