You always cry at weddings, and this reception was no exception.
Just watching them made you teary-eyed: he was impossibly handsome in his suit and tie as he took the hand of his bride and moved to dance. She glowed, twirled, and giggled, wildly in love and a little flustered. This gathering of friends and family was a true celebration, and you were glad to be there.
You never attended the wedding, the main reason being that you weren’t born yet. But as you’d watched your parents renew their vows, you wondered. What was their secret to a lasting marriage?
Marriage, says Tara Parker-Pope, isn’t rocket science. But in her new book “For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage”, the laboratory might have a few things to show us anyhow.
First of all, Parker-Pope says, throw out the dated belief that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, because it’s not true. Evidence shows that, because most first-time brides and grooms are older (therefore, more mature), the divorce rate is plummeting.
Splitsville aside, the very act of marriage is quite unlike that of centuries past. Parker-Pope quotes sociologists who say that marriages used to be arranged for power and convenience, not love. Romantic weddings – as well as the ability to choose a spouse – are relatively modern notions. Furthermore, modern-day people tend to expect more from marriage than did their ancestors.
So why commit to one person? Are we no better than swans?
Research suggests that monogamy may be genetic, rather than societal. But before you get that far, scent plays a big part in your choice of mate; scientists think it’s a biological way to discern a partner’s compatibility to one’s own genetic makeup. That brings hormones into the equation, as well as a host of quirky mating behaviors. And about those swans, well, let’s just say that birds of a feather flock together in lots of different nests…
So what can you do to boost your odds for a good marriage? Learn to fight correctly, science says. Women should get off the pill before they consider marrying a particular partner, since the pill seems to “interfere with the selection process.” Understand that having children will probably cause unhappiness in your marriage, possibly until the nest is empty. Pay attention to how you talk about your partner, fix what needs fixing, and always rekindle your romance.
Using research results and her own marriage and divorce as examples, author Tara Parker-Pope brings science to the altar, explaining what scientists know about human mating habits and how laboratory results can help couples stay blissfully together.
“For Better”, though, isn’t your basic how-to marriage manual. Instead, this book asks you to get clinical by looking at love through a test tube. True, that isn’t very romantic, but it is quite eye-opening.
If you want to know where your marriage has been and how you can ensure it’s on the right petal-strewn path, this book can only help. For you, “For Better” has just the right (wedding) ring to it.