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Sunday, July 19, 2009

When Love Isn't Enough.

Looking for love? Society and culture tell us that love cures all and that to be truly happy, we need to find the one who "completes us." Look at Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, or Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (who's apparently no longer "Sleepless in Seattle"). And once we find love, we marry and then it’s bliss. Right?

Well, researchers from the Australian National University report that love isn’t what will make us live "happily ever after." The study, "What’s Love Got to Do with It," followed 2,500 couples (married or living together) for six years to see which couples stayed together and why.

Here's a rundown of factors that played a significant role in whether those marriages lasted or failed:
1. Blending families—20 percent of marriages with kids from prior relationships end in divorce.
2. Second/third marriages—90 percent of these couples are likely to separate or divorce.
3. Age—If a man is under 25 when he marries or if he’s nine or more years older than his wife, he’s twice as likely to get a divorce than a man who is older than 25 or closer in age to his wife.
4. Desire to have children—If the women has a much stronger desire to have kids than her spouse, the marriage is not likely to succeed.
5. Relationship status of parents—If couples come from separated or divorced parents, 17 percent were headed toward the same result, as compared to 10 percent who come from stable homes.
6. Smoking—Relationships in which only one person smokes is also a factor toward failure.
7. Money—The root of all evil? Well not exactly, but 16 percent of self-reported "poor" relationships in which the man was unemployed ended in separation or divorce. Only 9 percent of couples who had a healthy bank account went south.

Is there anything that won't send us to divorce court? The study identified these as non-issues in the success or failure rates of those studied:
- How many kids a couple has
- Whether or not the wife is employed
- Number of years the couple is employed

Another study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, revealed that photos of your spouse in his or her high school yearbook can tell you a lot about whether your marriage will survive. The study ranked the intensity of a person’s smile in the photos and then compared those scores to marriage success. Those with strong smiles (in the top 10 percent) had not divorced. For those in the bottom 20 percent of smilers, 25 percent had divorced. While this seems a bit far-fetched to me, psychologists claim that those with a generally happy disposition had better success rates in marriage. (I guess it's too bad for those folks who may have been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend or missed the bus on photo day.)

In the examination of marriage and relationships, other studies have suggested that we may be predestined to fail or succeed. For example, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm reported on the ‘bonding gene’—a gene modulating the hormone vasopressin, which was strongly tied to how well men fare in marriage. The study suggests that if a man has more vasopressin in the brain, the more likely he'll want to stick with his partner.

While a lot of these factors contributing to success or failure seem like common sense, many of us still ignore the obvious hurdles (kids, prior divorces, age differences) and follow the strong scent of love instead. The so-called love hormone factors in, bringing a whole system of pleasure into play, and we forgo logic and reason for romantic love.

The reasons we are drawn to another person are sometimes curious. Factor in the realities of life and the journey involved in a relationship, and the reasons we stay together are even more mysterious and complicated.

- Source: MSN Health & Fitness