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Stuck in an Unhappy Marriage? Science Says You Should Stay in It

Stuck in an Unhappy Marriage? Science Says You Should Stay in It getty 478896468 132031

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Let’s start with the big data.

How many happy marriages do you know?

Fewer than 50 percent? Fewer than 30 percent? Would anyone, anyone, venture that the number might lurch beyond 50 percent?

I confess that I look at these things from the outside, having thus far forgotten to get married.

My number drifts down into the high 20s. On a good day.

Marriage, as married people tell me, is hard. And who likes to do anything hard these days?

I have, though, hopeful words for those who are looking at their marriages and thinking: “This isn’t quite what I thought it was going to be.”

New research says grin and bear it. Perhaps, more accurately, it says that if you bear it, you might end up grinning.

Here’s one statistic from this research: 70 percent of parents who are unhappy after the birth of their first child stay together. Of those 70 percent, 68 percent claim to be happy 10 years later.

Twenty-seven percent of these parents rate themselves “extremely happy,” a self-description that drier sorts might find “extremely dubious.”

Still, ultimate happiness is some reward for painful endurance. It’s a little like training for a marathon, suffering through it all, and discovering after 24 miles of the grueling race that you’ve suddenly found a second wind.

Harry Benson, the research director behind the project offered this thought: “Contrary to popular belief, staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you ever do. Most marriages have their unhappy moments, but apart from the fortunately extremely rare cases where the relationship involves abuse, most couples can work through the difficulties to be happy later on.”

Benson recommends regular date nights. But regular shouldn’t mean dull or predictable. And, if you keep these date nights exciting, you’ll have a 14 percent better chance of your marriage lasting.

Hey, 14 percent isn’t to be sniffed at. Have you seen Tinder lately?

Naturally, these statistics will offer boundless hope to many young lovers approaching Valentine’s Day. They will surely feel more confident about taking the leap toward betrothal and having faith that any extreme words uttered might still have meaning in 10 years’ time.

Oh, one other small detail. This research — which looked at data from 10,000 parents — was undertaken by the Marriage Foundation.

This charitable organization “refutes and tackles the myths that persuade too many people that marriage is ‘just a piece of paper’ and advances the uncontroversial and positive case that the commitment inherent in getting married provides the most durable arrangement for couples and so also for their children.”

It’s always good to support an uncontroversial case. There seem to be so few of them these days.

Perhaps that’s something you and your spouse should discuss on your next exciting date night.

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