Ultimate marriage guide

From the different types of marriages and its pros and cons, to how to make your own work and the signs that it's over, this guide has everything you need to know about tying the knot.

On this page

Getting married is a huge step in anyone’s life. It’s a decision that should be taken seriously, and with good reason. After all, marriage is a lifelong commitment!

If you’re like most couples, you probably have a million questions about what comes next. After the wedding bells stop ringing and the wedded bliss wears off, the reality will set in — and that’s when the real work of marriage begins. So, it’s normal to feel a little (or a lot) overwhelmed.

Throughout the course of your marriage, you will hear a lot of advice. From the pitfalls of “getting tied down” to the importance of “communication,” some of it will be helpful, and some of it… not so much. In this guide, we’re going to help you sort through all of the advice and figure out what actually works when it comes to making your marriage successful. From the pros and cons of marriages, why it exists in the first place, their different forms, how to make one last, and many more. So sit back, relax, and let us help you as you navigate this new chapter in your life.

What is the purpose of marriage?

What is the purpose of marriage?

Marriage has been around for centuries, and its purpose has varied depending on the culture, religion, or even government. In ancient times, marriages were often used to create alliances between families or tribes. 1 It was also a way to increase the chances of having offspring by ensuring that there was a man to protect and provide for the woman.

Historian Nancy Cott postulates that in the US, marriage is essential to the health of families and communities. She also argues that since colonial times, Americans have viewed marriage as a key element of a functional democracy. 2

Today, the purpose of marriage has evolved, and the reasons why people get married vary. Some couples choose to marry for love, while others view it as a way to solidify their commitment. Some may see it as a way to gain financial stability or start a family. Others may marry for religious reasons.

Whatever the reason may be, marriages remain an important part of many cultures and societies. They provide couples with a sense of stability and security, as well as social and economic benefits. Marriages are often linked with higher income, better health, and longer life expectancy. 3

Definition of marriage

A marriage is a legally recognized union between two or several people by the state, church, or tribe they belong to. A married couple is typically expected to live together and share their finances, although there are some exceptions. Marriages are often seen by governments as a way to alleviate poverty and its associated societal ills - the U.S. Congress stipulated that “marriage is the foundation of a successful society” and that “marriage is an essential institution of a successful society which promotes interests of children.” 4 

During wedding ceremonies, you’ll often hear a public commitment of the couple staying together through “sickness and health,” and this rings true to some degree, as marriage itself may influence sickness and physical health as well. Social relationships, in general, are huge contributors to health and well-being, and healthy marriages or greater marital quality have been shown to result in better health for both men and women. 5 6

In some surveys, married individuals also report greater happiness and life satisfaction, and a lower risk of depression than their unmarried counterparts. 7 8 Of course, this isn’t always the case and there are plenty of happy singles out there. And there are several additional reasons behind the health advantages of getting married, including selection (those who are healthier may be more inclined to get and stay married), shared resources (joint economic, psychological, and societal advantages), and the detrimental effects of marital disruptions (divorce, widowhood). 9

Learn how to define marriage as it is used today. Discover the key components, history, and evolution of this social institution.

Types of monogamous marriages

Marriages can come in many different forms. You’re probably familiar with the most common one adopted in developed countries - the monogamous kind - where there is sexual and romantic exclusivity to one partner. 10 11

Monogamous marriages usually start as a monogamous relationship and can be further classified into two types: serial monogamy and non-serial monogamy. Let’s take a close look at each.

1. Serial monogamy

Serial monogamy is when an individual has multiple spouses over their lifetime, but only one at a time. In developed countries, this often takes the form of divorce and remarriage. In the US, approximately half of the married population will end in divorce - and in 2019, the remarriage rate was approximately 25.1 remarriages per 1,000 men and women eligible to remarry. 12

This type of monogamous marriage was very common in the past, especially among royalty, as it was seen as a way to strengthen political alliances. And it is almost always viewed as favorable to male fitness and unfavorable to women’s fitness, and men who are taller, richer, and more attractive, are more successful at surviving through a divorce and remarrying than less-competitive men in a predominantly monogamous society. 13 14 Women, in contrast, are generally thought to suffer from divorce, both emotionally and socially. 14

While it’s often hard to know for sure whether a couple will stay together or not, some interesting statistics may help paint a picture. For one, the average length of first marriages that end in divorce is around eight years, and that second marriages often have a higher rate of divorce in various states in the US. 15

Some people see serial monogamy as a way to experience different types of relationships and explore what works for them. Others may view it as a form of hedging their bets, in case their current relationship doesn’t work out.

2. Non-serial monogamy

Non-serial monogamy, on the other hand, is when an individual is only romantically or sexually involved with one person throughout their lifetime. This type of monogamy is more common in places where laws don’t recognize divorce, such as in the Philippines or the Vatican city. 16

While non-serial monogamy may seem like the more ideal type of monogamous marriage, it’s not without its challenges. For one, it can be harder to find someone you’re compatible with, and if you do, there’s always the risk that they may not feel the same way about you. Often, when divorce happens in monogamous marriages, it’s because one spouse has been either unfaithful, violent, or suffering from an addiction. 17

If you do find yourself in a non-serial monogamous relationship, it’s important to be honest with your partner about your feelings and needs. Communicate openly to your partner about your wants and needs, and be sure to listen to theirs as well.

Types of non-monogamous marriages

While monogamy is the most common form of marriage, it’s not the only type. Non-monogamous marriages mostly start as a non-monogamous relationship.

These marriages, where the spouses are not exclusive to each other, are more common in some cultures than others. Polygamy is one type of non-monogamous marriage, “a marital relationship involving multiple spouses”, and its existence has been documented in 80 percent of societies across the globe, including the United States. 18 19

It is most prevalent in Burkina Faso (36 percent) and common among people who practice folk religions (45 percent), Muslims (40 percent), and Christians (24 percent). 20

Polygamy is often found in religious texts and can take different forms: polygyny, where a man has multiple wives; polyandry, where a woman has multiple husbands; or polygynandry, where a group of spouses are married to each other.

While polygamy is illegal in many countries, it’s still practiced in some due to various reasons, such as the belief in traditional and religious practices, cultural perceptions of family, agricultural and population needs, or social status and economic benefits. 21

1. Polygyny

The most common form of polygamy is polygyny, where a man has multiple wives, as such, it is often interchangeable with the term “polygamy.” 22 Polygyny is observed in over 850 indigenous cultures, almost all of which are located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania; it’s even practiced by up 20 to 50 percent of all wives in certain areas. 23

The life satisfaction of wives in these marriage types is mostly dependent on their order. Factors such as the husband’s supportiveness, maternal employment, and the age of the husband also play a role in satisfaction rates. 24

While a few would argue that polygyny empowers women by giving them more social and economic stability, research shows that in countries where it’s practiced, women have little to no economic resources and have limited education and work opportunities outside of their homes. 25

2. Polyandry

Polyandry, where a woman has multiple husbands, is much less common than polygyny and is only found in about 47 percent of the world’s cultures. 26 There are several theories that explain why polyandry is practiced: women switch partners to maximize economic income and genetic potential, prevent inbreeding, and confusion of paternity certainty to avoid infanticide. 27 28

In polyandrous societies, financially independent women appears to be the most concerned with genetic certainty for their offspring and are more likely to be in relationships with multiple “higher-quality” men simultaneously. 29

Little is known about the satisfaction rates of women in polyandrous marriages, and more research needs to be done in this area of polygamy.

3. Polygynandry

Polygynandry, where a group of men and women are married to each other, is common in subgroups of larger societies, such as polyamory communities and its advocates. 30

This relationship development may also happen among those who plan to marry monogamously in the future but are putting off reproduction to focus on their education, as is the case with American high school and university students in the ‘hook-up culture’. 31

It is difficult to get an estimate of how many people practice polygynandrous marriages because it’s not often reported in censuses and surveys, as it is illegal in most countries.

While there is little research on the subject, what we do know suggests that polygynandrous marriages once existed as a socially accepted form of marriage in the Caingang people of Brazil. Despite this, however, only eight percent of unions in their entire population were group marriages. 32

Marriages can happen between two people, three people, or even more. While non-monogamous marriages are not as visible in the United States, it is still practiced by some due to personal choice, religious beliefs, and cultural reasons. Whether you’re planning to enter into a monogamous or a non-monogamous marriage, it’s important to be honest with your partner about your needs and desires. With good communication, any type of marriage can be a successful one.

Talk about marriage

Talk about marriage

Before you take the plunge into married life, it’s important to sit down with your partner and talk about what marriage means to you. Discuss your expectations, needs, and fears. This is especially important if you’re planning to enter into a non-monogamous marriage, as there will be additional considerations to take into account.

Be honest with each other and be sure to communicate openly and often. Marriage is a huge commitment, so make sure you’re both on the same page before taking the next step.

Thinking about tying the knot? Whether you’ve been in a relationship for years or just started dating, these tips will help prepare you and your significant other to talk about marriage.

Questions to ask before marriage

Once you put a ring on that finger, there’s no turning back. You don’t want to suddenly realize you’re not on the same page as your spouse-to-be when it comes to finances, kids, or even where you want to live, so taking some time to talk about important topics before getting married is key.

When you sign up for marriage, you’re also signing up for a lifelong partnership. That’s why it’s important to discuss the following topics with your partner before walking down the aisle.

1. How do we handle conflict in our relationship?

How couples resolve their conflicts has been a good predictor of marital satisfaction and stability, so it’s important to discuss how you and your partner will handle disagreements before getting married. Distressed individuals in unsatisfactory relationships will often have high levels of negative (e.g., contempt) and low levels of positive affective expressions (e.g., validation) when they fight. 33 34

Negative forms of communication, such as criticism and contempt, are often employed by couples when discussing difficult topics - and when you’re married, you’re bound to face some tough times. On the other hand, positive forms of communication, such as validating your partner’s experience and emotions, can significantly improve the way you both feel during and after a conflict, and your overall relationship quality. 35 36

It’s important to discuss how you will handle disagreements before getting married, so that you can enter into your marriage with a plan for dealing with conflict in a constructive way.

2. How much time do you allot spending with friends, family, and on hobbies outside of our relationship?

It’s important to have a balance between time spent with your partner and time spent on other activities. While you and your partner might experience temporary benefits in relationship quality from engaging in familiar, comfortable activities such as going to dinner and a movie, continuing to invest time in novel and challenging activities together to maintain relationship satisfaction over time is important. 37 38

That said, it’s also valuable to have time apart to pursue your interests, hobbies, and time with friends and family. Sports, socializing, spending time in nature, or any leisurely activity, during stressful times, can help promote positive emotions - which would especially be beneficial when transitioning into married life. 39

3. Do we want kids? If so, how many?

Deciding whether or not to have children is a major decision, and it’s important that you and your partner know where you’re both at on this issue before getting married. Not only will having children change your relationship in a big way, but it will also change your lifestyle and day-to-day routine.

If you do want children, it’s important to talk about how many you both would like to have. This decision will be influenced by many factors, such as your age, financial stability, and career goals. Once you have children, it’s also important to discuss how you will juggle work and child-rearing responsibilities, as this can be a major source of stress for parents. 40

4. How could our financial dynamic shift over time?

Money is one of the most common sources of stress in relationships, so it’s important to discuss your financial goals and plan for your future together before getting married. 41 This includes discussing things like how you will save for retirement, whether or not you will have joint or separate bank accounts, and how you will handle major purchases.

It’s also important to be aware of how your financial dynamic may shift over time. For example, if one of you plans to stay home with children, there will be a decrease in household income. Alternatively, if one of you gets a promotion or a pay raise, your financial dynamic will change as well.

5. Are our sexual and intimacy needs compatible?

Sex and intimacy are important components of a happy and healthy relationship, so it’s important to discuss your needs and expectations with your partner before getting married. 42 This includes things like how often you would like to be intimate, what kinds of activities you are interested in, and whether or not you are open to trying new things.

It’s also important to discuss your needs for intimacy and affection outside of physical intimacy. This might include things like cuddling, kissing, and holding hands. Intimacy needs can change over time, so it’s important to check in with your partner regularly to make sure that your needs are still being met.

Pros and cons of marriage

Pros and cons of marriage

Being married isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s important to be aware of both the positives and negatives of marriage before making this commitment. You don’t want to enter into marriage blindly, without knowing what you’re getting yourself into.

Of course, as with any things in life, you’ll experience the good and the bad. But, at the end of the day, you’ll be married to your best friend and partner - for better or for worse. Deciding to get married is a big decision, but it can be one of the best (or worst) decisions you ever make, so make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

3 Pros of marriage

Why get married? Of course, because you’re in love and want to spend the rest of your life with that person. But there are other reasons, too. And it’s because of these reasons that marriage has remained such a popular institution, despite its many flaws. Here are three of the most common benefits people reap when they choose to get married.

1. Lower risk of morbidity and mortality

Marriage has a lot of health benefits - both mental and physical. Studies have shown that married people have a lower risk of mortality, and are less likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety than unmarried individuals. 42 8

You’ll also have someone to help you through tough times - whether it’s a health scare, the loss of a job, or anything else. Having a supportive spouse can make a big difference during difficult times.

2. Increased happiness and satisfaction

Marriage has also been linked to increased levels of happiness and satisfaction. 43 This is likely due to the increased sense of social support and companionship that comes with being married.

Of course, not every marriage is happy and satisfied. But, on average, married people report being happier and more satisfied with their lives than unmarried people. (referenc43)

3. Greater financial stability

Marriage can also provide greater financial stability. This is because, when you’re married, you’re more likely to receive financial perks from the government, such as health insurance and retirement benefits. You may also be able to file taxes jointly, which could lead to a lower tax bill.

There are also a number of financial benefits that come with being married. For example, you may be able to pool your resources and buy a home together. You may also be able to save money on things like car insurance by being married. If you and your partner are wise enough to take advantage of these benefits, you’ll be in a much better financial position than if you were unmarried.

3 Cons of marriage

Of course, marriage isn’t all about the benefits. There are also some drawbacks that come with tying the knot. Here are three of the most common negative aspects of marriage that often lead to divorce.

1. Additional money stress

Despite having the potential to improve your financial stability, marriage can also add a lot of financial stress to your life. 44 This is because you now have another person to support financially. If one partner loses their job, the other partner may have to shoulder the entire financial burden.

Weddings can also be incredibly expensive. And, if you have children, you’ll have even more financial responsibilities. All of this can be a lot of pressure for even the strongest of relationships. Money is one of the most common reasons families fight, and it’s no wonder why. Financial stress can lead to a lot of arguments and resentment, which can eventually destroy a marriage.

2. Less free time

When you’re married, you have to consider your partner’s needs and wants when making plans. This can often lead to having less free time for yourself. 45 You may have to miss out on things you want to do, like going out with your friends or taking a trip by yourself, because your spouse isn’t interested in doing those things.

Of course, this can be a good thing, too. It can force you to try new things and expand your horizons. But it can also be frustrating if you feel like you’re always putting your partner’s needs above your own. If you have kids, you’ll have even less free time, as you’ll need to spend time taking care of them.

3. Dependency on your partner

When you’re married, it’s easy to become overly dependent on your partner. Having interpersonal dependency, or “the need to associate closely with, interact with, and rely upon valued other people” on your partner can be harmful. 46 This is because you start to rely on them for things like emotional support, financial stability, and even day-to-day tasks. While it’s important to lean on your spouse during tough times, relying on them too much can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration.

If you find yourself becoming overly dependent on your partner, it’s important to take a step back and reassess your relationship. Make sure you’re still maintaining your own sense of self and that you’re not relying on your partner for everything. It’s important to have a healthy balance in your relationship, where both partners are relying on each other equally.

Marriage comes with its fair share of challenges and benefits, but it’s ultimately up to you and your partner to decide if it’s right for you. If you’re considering getting married, sit down with your partner and discuss the pros and cons. Talk about your financial situation, your career goals, and your plans for the future. You should also consider how marriage will affect your relationship.

Marriage advice

Marriage advice

When you’re married, you’re bound to experience some bumps in the road. But, if you’re armed with the right knowledge, you can overcome any obstacle.

Couples who have lived together for a longer period of time are more efficient, wealthier, and healthier than those who have not been married or have only lived together for a short while. They also tend to live longer. 47 48 49

The benefits of marriage increase over time, so it’s natural that you want to make sure your marriage is as strong as it can be. Get ready for some marraige advice!

7 principles for making marriage work

In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, American psychologist and marriage researcher John Gottman outlines seven key principles that can help any marriage succeed. He based these principles on decades of research with thousands of couples.

Keep in mind that these principles are only a guide – every marriage is different and you’ll need to find what works for you and your partner.

1. Enhance your love maps

The first principle is to “enhance your love maps.” This means knowing every little detail about your partner – their history, their hopes, and dreams, their fears and worries. Familiarity with your partner’s inner world will help you understand them better and strengthen your sense of oneness in the relationship. 50

Knowing your partner inside out will help you understand and appreciate them more. You’ll also be able to express your affection in a way that’s more meaningful to them. As such, knowing their love language is essential in improving relationship satisfaction and keeping the spark alive in your relationship. 51 In addition, the more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to deal with any challenges that come up.

2. Nurture fondness and admiration

The second principle is to “nurture fondness and admiration.” This means taking the time to appreciate your partner – even during the tough times. When you look back on your relationship, you should remember the good times more than the bad.

It’s important to keep positive feelings alive in your relationship. This means that viewing your partner as someone worthy of respect and admiration is essential to intimacy and relationship satisfaction. 52 When you have fond feelings towards your partner, it’ll be easier to work through any challenges that come up.

3. Turn toward each other instead of away

This principle is all about making an effort to connect with your partner, even when you’re feeling disconnected. It’s about being there for them, even when you don’t feel like it. Make room for romance and intimacy in your relationship, even when life gets busy.

Gottman’s research shows that happy couples turn towards each other about 86 percent of the time, while unhappy couples only turn towards each other about 33 percent of the time. 53 That means that happy couples make a conscious effort to connect with each other, even when they’re feeling disconnected.

The key is to find ways to turn towards your partner – whether it’s through physical affection, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, or acts of service. By making an effort to connect with your partner, you’ll be able to work through any challenges that come up.

4. Let your partner influence you

As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango.” For a relationship to work, both partners need to be willing to compromise and let the other do their thing. This principle is all about being open to your partner’s influence – even if it means changing your point of view.

Especially when it comes to heterosexual relationships, there’s always a notion that the man should be the head of the household and the woman should be submissive. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact, research shows that happy couples are those who make their relationship a two-way street - where both partners let each other influence them and their personal growth. 54

5. Solve your solvable problems

Taking the time to work through any issues that come up in your relationship is essential to a happy and healthy marriage. This principle is all about solving your solvable problems – the ones that you can actually do something about.

Compromise and putting yourself in your partner’s shoes is key to solving any solvable problem. Through mutual assertion and accommodation, you and your partner can work together to find a solution that works for both of you. 55 When you’re able to see things from their perspective, it’ll be easier to find a solution that works for both of you.

And when you’re able to work through your problems together, it’ll only make your relationship stronger.

6. Overcome gridlock

Encountering gridlock in your relationship is inevitable. Gridlock is when you and your partner have different opinions on a certain issue and neither of you is willing to budge. Gottman’s research says that this is because the individual dreams that each partner has for their future are usually incompatible. 53

The key to overcoming gridlock is to acknowledge that each partner has different dreams and needs. It’s important to respect each other’s wishes and try to find a compromise that works for both of you. Good communication is essential to working through any gridlock you may encounter. 56

7. Create shared meaning

The concept of similarity has been found to be one of the most important predictors of relationship satisfaction. 57 Couples who share similar values and goals are usually happier and more satisfied than those who don’t.

This principle is all about creating shared meaning in your relationship. Find ways to connect with your partner on a deeper level by sharing your hopes, dreams, and values. This will create a stronger bond between you and help you weather any storms that come your way.

By following these principles, you can create a happy and healthy marriage that will last a lifetime. Gottman’s research is proof that happy marriages are possible – you just need to put in the work. So don’t give up on your relationship, and remember that even the happiest couples have to work at it.

How to be a better husband

How to be a better husband

Becoming a better husband is not as difficult as it may seem. It simply requires being more mindful of your words and actions and making a conscious effort to be a better partner. Here are a few tips on how to be a better husband.

1. Practice active listening

One of the best ways to be a better husband is to be an active listener. This means paying attention to what your partner is saying and trying to understand their point of view. Express interest in what they’re saying by providing non-verbal cues like making eye contact and nodding your head. 58

Try not to pass judgment or offer unsolicited advice. Just listen to what they have to say and let them know that you’re there for them. Ask questions if you’re not sure what they mean and be sure to clarify anything that you didn’t understand.

2. Offer support and understanding

Often in marriages, one partner will feel like they’re shouldering all of the responsibility. This can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration. 59 If you want to be a better husband, it’s important to offer support and understanding to your partner.

Let them know that you’re there for them and offer to help out with whatever they’re dealing with. If they’re having a tough day, offer to lend a listening ear or give them a hug. Sometimes just knowing that you’re there for them can make all the difference.

3. Be affectionate

Showing affection is an important part of any relationship, but it’s often something that husbands forget to do. Say “I love you” often, give them compliments, and perform acts of service like cooking dinner or taking the dog for a walk.

Physical touch is also important. Be sure to give them plenty of hugs, cuddles, and kisses. These small gestures can go a long way in making your partner feel loved and appreciated.

4. Express gratitude

One of the best ways to show your partner that you appreciate them is to express gratitude. Thank them for doing things, big or small. Let them know that you’re grateful for their presence in your life.

Even saying something as simple as “thank you for being here” can make a world of difference. Expressing your gratitude like this can even help decrease attachment anxiety and make your relationship stronger. 60

How to be a better wife

How to be a better wife

When it comes to being a better wife to your spouse, the key is to always be striving for improvement. No one is perfect and there’s always room for growth. Below are some general tips on how to be a better wife.

1. Communicate openly and honestly

One of the most important things in any relationship is communication. Improving your communication skills will go a long way in making you a better wife. Honesty is crucial in any relationship, so be sure to always be truthful with your partner. 61

Try to avoid arguments and fights by communicating calmly and openly about your feelings. If you’re feeling upset or frustrated, let them know in a non-threatening way. This will help to keep the lines of communication open and prevent misunderstandings.

2. Validate your partner’s feelings and opinions

It’s important to validate your partner’s feelings, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything they say, but it does mean that you should try to see things from their perspective.

Being able to validate a point of view that doesn’t align with your own is a sign of maturity and emotional intelligence. 55 It’s an important skill to have in any relationship, so be sure to practice it often.

3. Make time for the two of you

Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life is inevitable, especially if you’re married. However, it’s important to spend quality time with your partner. Even just talking for a few minutes each day can make a world of difference and improve relationship satisfaction. 62

Make sure to schedule regular date nights and weekends away, even if it’s just for a night or two. These little getaways will help to keep the spark alive in your relationship.

4. Compliment them often

The power of a simple compliment should not be underestimated. Be sure to let your partner know often how much you appreciate them. Compliment their appearance, their achievements, or just tell them how happy you are to be with them.

A little bit of positive reinforcement can go a long way in making your partner feel loved and appreciated. (refrence63) So, be sure to give them plenty of compliments whenever you can.

Marriage requires a lot of work, and you’re going to make mistakes along the way. But as long as you’re always striving to be a better husband or wife, your relationship will be all the stronger for it.

Signs your marriage is over

Signs your marriage is over

Sometimes, even if you’re trying your best, it’s just not enough. Problems can crop up that are too big to ignore. And while conflict is normal in any relationship, there are certain signs that indicate your marriage may be beyond repair.

Divorce can be a stressful event for families, but it may be the best decision if you feel like you’re stuck in an unhappy or toxic marriage. 63 If you’re seeing any of the following signs, it may be time to seek professional help or even consider divorce.

1. You’re arguing too often

Too much conflict is a sign that something is wrong in your relationship. 72.2 percent of divorced couples report that it was a major source of unhappiness in their marriage. 64 Most of these arguments also go unresolved, which can lead to resentment and bitterness

While it’s normal to argue with your spouse from time to time, if you’re doing it on a daily basis, something needs to change. If you can’t seem to resolve your differences, it may be time to seek help from a professional or legal counsel.

2. Lack of commitment

When you’re married, you’re supposed to be committed to your partner for better or for worse. But if you’re finding that you no longer want to commit to your spouse, it may be a sign that your marriage is over. This reason often makes the top of the list of why couples get divorced. 64

This lack of commitment can manifest itself in many different ways. Maybe you’re cheating on your spouse, or you’re considering it. Maybe you’ve already started the divorce process but haven’t told your spouse yet. Or maybe you’re just mentally checked out of the relationship.

Whatever the case may be, if you’re not committed to your marriage, it’s time to start thinking about what you want for your future.

3. You no longer understand each other

Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important in marriage. After all, you’re supposed to be partners for life. But if you find that you and your spouse no longer understand each other, it may be a sign that your marriage is coming to an end.

You may not share the same interests or values anymore. Or maybe you’ve just grown apart over the years. You still spend time together, but it feels like you’re living in separate worlds. Once you stop understanding each other, it’s hard to find your way back.

4. There is no intimacy

Intimacy is an important part of marriage, but it’s not just about sex. It’s about feeling close to your partner and sharing a special bond. Intimacy plays a huge role in relationship satisfaction. 65

Of course, it’s only natural that intimacy declines as the years go by. But if you’re not interested in being intimate with your spouse at all, it may be a sign that your marriage is over.

5. You don’t trust each other

Trust is essential in any relationship, but it’s especially important in marriage. After all, you’re supposed to be sharing your life with this person. But a lack of trust can cause instability and anxiety in your relationship. 66

There are many different reasons why you may not trust your spouse. Maybe they’ve cheated on you in the past. Maybe you have different views on finances. Or maybe there’s just a general feeling of distance between you. Regardless, if you don’t trust your spouse, it’s hard to see a future together.

Of course, there are just a few of the signs that your marriage may be beyond repair. If you’re seeing any of these signs in your relationship, it’s important to seek help from a professional. They can help you figure out whether your marriage is worth saving or if it’s time to move on.

Frequently asked questions about marriage

Frequently asked questions about marriage

1. When was marriage invented?

Marriage has existed since the beginning of human history. Available evidence indicates that the first recorded marriages took place during 2350 B.C. in Mesopotamia. 67 While the institution of marriage has dramatically changed throughout history, its legally binding purposes have remained the same.

In the United States, the legal definition of marriage is a civil contract between two people who agree to become spouses. The terms of the contract are regulated by state law, and the contract is dissolved by divorce. 68

In contrast, a religious marriage is a sacrament or covenant between two people who agree to become husband and wife in the eyes of God. The terms of the sacrament are regulated by church doctrine, and the covenant is dissolved by annulment. 69

2. How long does the average marriage last?

In the US, the average length of first marriages is about eight years. While this number might seem discouraging, this number may vary between states and regions. In addition, the divorce rate today is a lot lower than it was a decade ago. 15

It’s important to remember that every marriage is different. There are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of a marriage, such as your physical and emotional compatibility, commitment, and communication. 70

If you’re concerned about the longevity of your marriage, seek help from a marriage counselor or a relationship therapist. They can help you identify any potential problems in your relationship and offer advice on how to strengthen your marriage.

3. What is a covenant marriage?

A covenant marriage is a type of marriage in which the husband and wife agree to make a good-faith effort to make their marital status last until “death do them part.” In religious societies, individuals who agree to a covenant marriage make a solemn vow before God to remain married.

You might be wondering, “Why would anyone want to enter into a covenant marriage?” Some couples feel that a covenant marriage will help them weather the tough times in their relationship. Because you’ve sworn before God to stay together, you may be more likely to work through your problems instead of giving up and getting divorced.

Entering into a covenant marriage has many advantages but it also means that couples opt for divorce as an option of last resort. Find out how covenant marriages can benefit you and your spouse alike.

4. What are the disadvantages of not changing your name after marriage?

There are a few potential disadvantages of not changing your name after marriage. You may experience some confusion when filling out official documents, such as your tax return. In addition, you may have to show your marriage certificate to prove that you’re using your maiden name for professional or personal reasons.

Not changing your name after marriage can also cause problems if you have children. Your child may have a different last name than you, which can cause confusion and complications when it comes to school and medical records.

5. When do you know your marriage is over?

Marriages can be a rocky road, and it’s not uncommon for couples to experience rough patches. However, there are several signs that your marriage may be headed for trouble.

For one, divorced couples will often cite growing apart as one of the reasons for their divorce. 71 If you and your spouse are no longer on the same page, it may be time to seek counseling or consider ending your marriage.

In addition, couples who are constantly arguing and fighting may be headed for divorce. When you find that you’re always arguing about the same topics, it’s a sign that you’re not able to resolve your differences. If you can’t seem to work through your problems, getting a divorce may be the best solution.

There are many other signs that your marriage may be over, such as infidelity, financial problems, lack of respect, physical incompatibility, and communication issues. 71 If you’re experiencing any of these problems, try getting some help from a professional who can offer guidance on how to save your marriage.

6. How long should you date before marriage?

There is no definite answer to this question, as every couple is different. Many factors can influence when you should pop the question, such as financial stability, relationship readiness, and whether you want to have children or not. Some couples will date for years before getting married, while others may only date for a few months.

The important thing is to make sure that you both had discussed marriage and are on the same page about taking that next step. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re both ready for the commitment of marriage, as it’s a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to get married, ask yourself these questions: Do you trust your partner? Are you both on the same page about your future goals? Do you have a strong emotional connection? Do you feel like you can’t imagine your life without your partner? If you answered yes to these questions, then you may be ready to take the next step and get married.

Of course, if you’re considering marriage, talking about the practicalities is important too. You’ll want to make sure that you both agree on things like how many children you want to have, where you want to live, how much you’re going to spend on your wedding, and so on. Once you’ve ironed out the details, then you can start planning for your future together.

7. How to propose to your partner?

Proposing is no easy feat, but there are a few things you can do to make it a success. First, you’ll want to think about what your partner would like. If they’re the romantic type, then a grand gesture like roses and champagne may be in order. Alternatively, if they prefer something more low-key, then a simple but heartfelt proposal may be best. Specifically tailoring the way you propose to your partner’s personality or love language will make it even more special. 51

Next, you’ll need to choose the right time and place to propose. This will depend on your relationship and what you know about your partner. For example, if they’re the type of person who loves surprises, then you may want to pop the question in a place they least expect it. However, if they prefer planning and structure, then you’ll want to give them a heads-up about when and where you’ll be proposing.

Finally, make sure you’re prepared for the answer. It’s possible that your partner may say no, and you need to be okay with that outcome. If you’re not ready to handle rejection, then you may want to wait a bit longer before proposing.

When you’re ready, get down on one knee, look your partner in the eye, and say why you want to spend the rest of your life with them. If all goes well, you’ll be planning your wedding in no time!

  1. The History of Marriage. (2021, November 30). SAGU. sagu.edu ↩︎

  2. Hull, K. E., Meier, A., & Ortyl, T. (2010). The Changing Landscape of Love and Marriage. Contexts (Berkeley, Calif.), 9(2), 32–37. doi.org ↩︎

  3. Waite, L. J., & Lehrer, E. L. (2003). The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis. Population and development review, 29(2), 255–276. doi.org ↩︎

  4. Brown, S. L. (2017). Families in America (1st ed.). University of California Press. jstor.org ↩︎

  5. Cacioppo, J. T., Berntson, G. G., Sheridan, J. F., & McClintock, M. K. (2000). Multilevel integrative analyses of human behavior: social neuroscience and the complementing nature of social and biological approaches. Psychological bulletin, 126(6), 829–843. doi.org ↩︎

  6. Burman, B., & Margolin, G. (1992). Analysis of the association between marital relationships and health problems: an interactional perspective. Psychological bulletin, 112(1), 39–63. doi.org ↩︎

  7. Mastekaasa, A. (1994). Marital Status, Distress, and Well-Being: An International Comparison*. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 25, 183-205. ↩︎

  8. Robins L. N. & Regier D. A. (1991). Psychiatric disorders in america : the epidemiologic catchment area study. Free Press ; Collier Macmillan Canada ; Maxwell Macmillan International. ↩︎ ↩︎

  9. Liu, H., & Umberson, D. J. (2008). The times they are a changin’: marital status and health differentials from 1972 to 2003. Journal of health and social behavior, 49(3), 239–253. doi.org ↩︎

  10. Henrich, J., Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (2012). The puzzle of monogamous marriage. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Series B: Biological Sciences, 367, 657–669 ↩︎

  11. Lee, B. H., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2019). Walk the Line: How Successful Are Efforts to Maintain Monogamy in Intimate Relationships?. Archives of sexual behavior, 48(6), 1735–1748. doi.org ↩︎

  12. Remarriage Rate in the U.S.: Geographic Variation, 2019. (n.d.). Bowling Green State University. bgsu.edu ↩︎

  13. Forsberg, A. J. L., & Tullberg, B. S. (1995). The relationship between cumulative number of cohabiting partners and number of children from men and women in modern Sweden. Ethology and Sociobiology, 16, 221–232. ↩︎

  14. Buckle, L., Gallup, G. G., & Rodd, Z. A. (1996). Marriage as a reproductive contract: Patterns of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Ethology and Sociobiology, 17, 363–377. ↩︎ ↩︎

  15. Vuleta, B. (2022, April 26). Divorce Rate in America [35 Stunning Stats for 2022]. legaljobs.io ↩︎ ↩︎

  16. Staff, T. W. (2019, April 9). Countries where divorce is illegal. The Week UK. theweek.co.uk ↩︎

  17. Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Couple & family psychology, 2(2), 131–145. doi.org ↩︎

  18. Al-Krenawi, A. (2001). Women from Polygamous and Monogamous Marriages in an Out-Patient Psychiatric Clinic. Transcultural Psychiatry, 38(2), 187–199. doi.org ↩︎

  19. Hassouneh-Phillips, D. (2001). Polygamy and wife abuse: a qualitative study of Muslim women in America. Health Care for Women International 22, 735–748. ↩︎

  20. Kramer, S. (2020). ’Polygamy is rare around the world and mostly confined to a few regions’, Pew Research Center. pewresearch.org ↩︎

  21. Al-Krenawi, A. (1999). Women of polygamous marriages in primary health care centers. Contemporary Family Therapy 21, 417–430. ↩︎

  22. Valsiner, J. (1989). Organization of children’s social development in polygamic families. In Child Development in Cultural Context (ed. J. Valsiner), pp. 67–86. Hogrefe and Huber: Toronto. ↩︎

  23. Bergstrom, T. (1994). On the economics of polygyny. The impact of polygamy on women’s mental health. repositories.cdlib.org ↩︎

  24. ELBEDOUR, S., ONWUEGBUZIE, A.J., CARIDINE, C. & ABU-SAAD, H. (2002) The effect of polygamous marital structure on behavioral, emotional, and academic adjustment in children: a comprehensive review of the literature. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 5(4), 255–271. ↩︎

  25. AL-KRENAWI, A. & GRAHAM, J.R. (1999) The story of Bedouin-Arab women in a polygamous marriage. Women Studies International Forum, 22, 497–509. ↩︎

  26. Kanazawa, S. (2008). Why Are There Virtually No Polyandrous Societies? Psychology Today. ↩︎

  27. Maness, T. J., & Anderson, D. J. (2007). Serial monogamy and sex ratio bias in Nazca boobies. Proceedings of the Royal Society (London), B: Biological Sciences, 274, 2047–2054. ↩︎

  28. Gangestad, S. W., & Simpson, J. A. (2000). The evolution of human mating: Trade-offs and strategic pluralism. Behavior and Brain Sciences, 23, 573–644. ↩︎

  29. Borgerhoff Mulder M. (2009). Serial monogamy as polygyny or polyandry? : marriage in the tanzanian pimbwe. Human nature (Hawthorne, N.Y.), 20(2), 130–150. doi.org ↩︎

  30. Barker, M. (2005). This is my partner, and this is my… partner’s partner: Constructing a polyamorous identity in a monogamous world. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 18(1), 75-88. ↩︎

  31. Garcia, J. R., Reiber, C., Massey, S. G., & Merriwether, A. M. (2012). Sexual hookup culture: A review. Review of General Psychology, 16(2), 161-176. ↩︎

  32. Ethnographic Atlas. (1962, January). Ethnology, 1(1), 113. doi.org ↩︎

  33. Cutrona, C. E. (1996). Social support in couples: Marriage as a resource in times of stress. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ↩︎

  34. Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995). The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, methods, and research. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 3–34. ↩︎

  35. Sanford, K. (2003). Expectancies and communication behaviour in marriage: Distinguishing proximal-level effects from distal-level effects. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20, 391–402. ↩︎

  36. Rehman, U. S., Janssen, E., Newhouse, S., Heiman, J., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Fallis, E., & Rafaeli, E. (2011). Marital satisfaction and communication behaviors during sexual and nonsexual conflict discussions in newlywed couples: a pilot study. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 37(2), 94–103. doi.org ↩︎

  37. Muise, A., Harasymchuk, C., Day, L. C., Bacev-Giles, C., Gere, J., & Impett, E. A. (2019). Broadening your horizons: Self-expanding activities promote desire and satisfaction in established romantic relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 116(2), 237–258. doi.org ↩︎

  38. Branand, B., Mashek, D., & Aron, A. (2019). Pair-Bonding as Inclusion of Other in the Self: A Literature Review. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2399. doi.org ↩︎

  39. Lazarus, R. S., Kanner, A. D., Folkman, S., Plutchik, R., & Kellerman, H. (1980). Theories of emotion. ↩︎

  40. Bornstein, M. H. (Ed.). (2002). Handbook of Parenting: Practical Issues in Parenting, Volume 5. Taylor & Francis. ↩︎

  41. Bodnar, J., & Cliff, J. (1991). How to fight fair about money. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, 45(7), 65-8. ↩︎

  42. Johnson, N. J., Backlund, E., Sorlie, P. D., & Loveless, C. A. (2000). Marital status and mortality: the national longitudinal mortality study. Annals of epidemiology, 10(4), 224–238. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎

  43. Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W., & Jones, B. Q. (2008). Is there something unique about marriage? The relative impact of marital status, relationship quality, and network social support on ambulatory blood pressure and mental health. Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 35(2), 239–244. doi.org ↩︎

  44. Conger, R. D., Rueter, M. A., & Elder, G. H., Jr (1999). Couple resilience to economic pressure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 76(1), 54–71. doi.org ↩︎

  45. Claxton, A., & Perry-Jenkins, M. (2008). No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood. Journal of marriage and the family, 70(1), 28–43. doi.org ↩︎

  46. Hirschfeld, R. M., Klerman, G. L., Gough, H. G., Barrett, J., Korchin, S. J., & Chodoff, P. (1977). A measure of interpersonal dependency. Journal of Personality Assessment, 41, 610-618. ↩︎

  47. Dupre, M. E., Beck, A. N., & Meadows, S. O. (2009). Marital trajectories and mortality among US adults. American journal of epidemiology, 170(5), 546-555. ↩︎

  48. Dupre, M. E., & Meadows, S. O. (2007). Disaggregating the effects of marital trajectories on health. Journal of Family Issues, 28(5), 623-652. ↩︎

  49. Zissimopoulos, J. M., Karney, B. R., & Rauer, A. J. (2015). Marriage and economic well being at older ages. Review of Economics of the Household, 13(1), 1-35. ↩︎

  50. Finkel, E. J., Norton, M. I., Reis, H. T., Ariely, D., Caprariello, P. A., Eastwick, P. W., … & Maniaci, M. R. (2015). When does familiarity promote versus undermine interpersonal attraction? A proposed integrative model from erstwhile adversaries. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(1), 3-19. ↩︎

  51. Mostova, O., Stolarski, M., & Matthews, G. (2022). I love the way you love me: Responding to partner’s love language preferences boosts satisfaction in romantic heterosexual couples. PloS one, 17(6), e0269429. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎

  52. Grote, N. K., & Frieze, I. H. (1994). The measurement of Friendship‐based Love in intimate relationships. Personal Relationships, 1(3), 275-300. ↩︎

  53. Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2021, March 1). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Countrys Foremost Relationship Expert, Revised and Updated (Unabridged). Tantor and Blackstone Publishing. ↩︎ ↩︎

  54. Overall, N. C., Fletcher, G. J., & Simpson, J. A. (2010). Helping each other grow: romantic partner support, self-improvement, and relationship quality. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 36(11), 1496–1513. doi.org ↩︎

  55. Fowers, B. J. (2001). THE LIMITS OF A TECHINICAL CONCEPT OF A GOOD MARRIAGE: EXPLORING THE ROLE OF VIRTUE IN COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 27(3), 327–340. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎

  56. Fowers, B. J., & Olson, D. H. (1986, October). PREDICTING MARITAL SUCCESS WITH PREPARE: A PREDICTIVE VALIDITY STUDY. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 12(4), 403–413. doi.org ↩︎

  57. DEAL, J. E., WAMPLER, K. S., & HALVERSON, C. F. (1992). The Importance of Similarity in the Marital Relationship. Family Process, 31(4), 369–382. doi.org ↩︎

  58. McNaughton, D., Hamlin, D., McCarthy, J., Head-Reeves, D. & Schreiner, M. (2007). Learning to listen: Teaching an active listening strategy to pre-service education professionals. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 27: 223–231. doi.org ↩︎

  59. Campbell, L., Simpson, J. A., Boldry, J., & Kashy, D. A. (2005). Perceptions of conflict and support in romantic relationships: the role of attachment anxiety. Journal of personality and social psychology, 88(3), 510–531. doi.org ↩︎

  60. Park, Y., Johnson, M. D., MacDonald, G., & Impett, E. A. (2019). Perceiving gratitude from a romantic partner predicts decreases in attachment anxiety. Developmental psychology, 55(12), 2692–2700. doi.org ↩︎

  61. Debnam, K. J., Howard, D. E., & Garza, M. A. (2014). If you don’t have honesty in a relationship, then there is no relationship: African American girls’ characterization of healthy dating relationships, a qualitative study. The journal of primary prevention, 35(6), 397–407. doi.org ↩︎

  62. Hogan, J. N., Crenshaw, A. O., Baucom, K., & Baucom, B. (2021). Time Spent Together in Intimate Relationships: Implications for Relationship Functioning. Contemporary family therapy, 43(3), 226–233. doi.org ↩︎

  63. Spremo M. (2020). Children and Divorce. Psychiatria Danubina, 32(Suppl 3), 353–359. ↩︎

  64. Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Couple & family psychology, 2(2), 131–145. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎

  65. Yoo, H., Bartle-Haring, S., Day, R. D., & Gangamma, R. (2014). Couple communication, emotional and sexual intimacy, and relationship satisfaction. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 40(4), 275–293. doi.org ↩︎

  66. Arikewuyo, A. O., Eluwole, K. K., & Özad, B. (2021). Influence of Lack of Trust on Romantic Relationship Problems: The Mediating Role of Partner Cell Phone Snooping. Psychological reports, 124(1), 348–365. doi.org ↩︎

  67. Staff, T. W. (2015, January 9). The origins of marriage: First love marriage in the world. The Week. theweek.com ↩︎

  68. Marriage. (n.d.). LII / Legal Information Institute. law.cornell.edu ↩︎

  69. The Catholic Church and Marriage. (n.d.). cathdal.org ↩︎

  70. Samadi, P., Alipour, Z., Salehi, K., Kohan, S., & Hashemi, M. (2021). The keys to a good and lasting marriage: Exploration of Iranian couple’s experiences. Journal of education and health promotion, 10, 474. doi.org ↩︎

  71. Gravningen, K., Mitchell, K. R., Wellings, K., Johnson, A. M., Geary, R., Jones, K. G., Clifton, S., Erens, B., Lu, M., Chayachinda, C., Field, N., Sonnenberg, P., & Mercer, C. H. (2017). Reported reasons for breakdown of marriage and cohabitation in Britain: Findings from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3). PloS one, 12(3), e0174129. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎

Author picture of Amy Clark
Relationship Expert

Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a freelance writer who writes about relationships, marriage, and family. She has been happily married for over ten years and loves her husband and three kids. Before …

Read full bio

Get the official app 😍

PumPum® app icon


For iPhone & Android
Browse all articles