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  • 1. FUNDAMENTAL FACTORS TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE
    Literature Review Paper
    By
    Julia Truong
  • 2. Marriage and divorce is one of the main issues and concerns our society having. Many researches have done on this topic and the findings showed that many marriages ended up divorce and some stay unhappily married, and few marriages last and happy. This paper will assessing 10 previous studies in hope that it will help us understand what are the factors contribute to happy marriage and what led to dissolution in marriage. As a result, I gathered maturation, commitment, sameness, forgiveness, conflict, and communication are the fundamental factors contribute to happy and long lasting marriage. On the contrary, liberal attitude toward marriage, extramarital affair, sexual incompatibility, cohabitation, economic stress, spousal income deviation, age at time of marriage, premarital pregnancy, and urbanization are the ones that lead to marriage dissolution.
    Abstract
  • 3. The traditional nuclear family is no longer dominant in our society, as the trend of American families mostly consists of divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, and single parenting. This has brought much attention to researchers due to concern of social consequences. Many studies have identified the numerous determinants contributing to divorce, as well as beginning of some studies have focused on what constitutes a happy and long lasting marriage. To many, problems in marriage are considered as the norm and are part of daily life. I, on the other hand, acknowledge there are problems and issues in marriage, but I do not consider them to be the norm. The problem is when people consider these small issues the norm, they tend to ignore them, pretend these problems do not exist, and hope they will just disappear on their own. To me, happiness and satisfaction in marriage do not come naturally. Marriage is a process that each partner must work on it continually and consistently.
    The decline in marriage and high divorce rate is a concern in our society today, especially when children are involved. Through this investigation, I hope to understand the core issues, as to why so many American families are unable to stay married, as they once made their vow “until death do us part.” and what factors contribute to a happy and long lasting marriage. Some specific aspects on this subject will be presented and discussed accordingly. I hope my findings will help many married couples find their way to happiness and satisfaction in their marriages. Perhaps that will help to deter or decline the divorce rate by their striving toward the elements that help develop a healthy relationship in marriage.
    Topic Proposal
  • 4. American culture values individualism and liberal attitude toward marriage, as the enlightenment and the individualistic doctrines of the French and the American Revolutions led America and Western Europe to the belief that marriage should be based on love and mutual affection (Coontz, 2006, p.9). This trend of belief led to a large number of divorces in America and Western Europe, as once love and feeling of attraction no longer mutually exist, people just walk out of the marriage (Coontz, 2006).
    Historical Background
  • 5. Historically evidenced that men had the privilege to initiate divorce in the patriarchal civilizations ancient world, divorce often occurred in the wealthy in ancient Rome, and in the early medieval Europe, the husband would divorce his wife if she was unable to provide him a male heir (Coontz, 2006).
    Examples
  • 6. Discussion
    Even though there could be many reasons for people to get married and stay married, not many marriages can last and not many can find happiness in their marriages. For those who divorce, there are also many reasons that they find staying married as unattainable or it could simply be due to the fact that love and mutual attraction no longer exist in the relationship (Coontz, 2006), or they moved on and set out on their quest searching for the right partner or perfect marriage. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as perfection and certainly, there is no such perfect marriage. The biggest issue that people often forget is “the choice of a spouse is only something like the choice of a processed material, but they expected it to be the choice of an article” or a finished project (Pang, 1993, p.98). That is why the day that people say “I do” is just a start, a beginning of their journey together. Sadly, many people mistakenly believed the day they say, “I do” also means, “I am done” trying, as they were once driven by the idealization and fantasy about relationship during their courtship (Huston, 2009).
    In addition, those who did not give up on their marriage, stuck to their vow, for the sake of their children, or for whatever the reason, experienced unhappiness and low quality in their marriages (Hawkins & Booth, 2005). Through empirical researches and studies, the problem these people often experienced were lower level of happiness in life, lack of life satisfaction, lower self-esteem, and importantly, a host of other psychological distress and their wellbeing (Hawkins & Booth, 2005). Marriage is a mixture of opposite, bittersweet and freedom within limit (Pang, 1993). It is essential that people should realize this and continually work on their marriages because marriage is a lifelong process of learning, improvement, and commitment (Weigel, Bennett & Ballard-Reisch, 2003). Therefore, it is essential that each partner should often begin self-evaluation and assessment of his/her attitude and his/her contribution toward the marriage.
    I sometimes considered it luck for those who found the right partner and lived happily in their marriage especially those who found one another and for some who did not choose their spouse because their marriages were arranged. Family of origin has strong influences on how people approach marriage. It pretty much all about their attitude toward marriage and expectation from the marriage varies because some people grow up in an intact, full of love, and happy family whereas others have experienced a wide range of problems, such as parental infidelity/divorce and conflict (Weigel, Bennett & Ballard-Reisch, 2003). Some research finding proved that there are associations between how the children perceived in the family commitment shaped and formed their own views on commitment through their observation, interpretation, and lesson learned from the parents’ interaction (Weigel, Bennett & Ballard-Reisch, 2003; Riggio & Weiser, 2008). From there, they set a cognitive schema onto their future relationships. Those who lacked of positive attitude toward marriage with high expectation from marriage are most likely will end with divorce (Riggio & Weiser, 2008).
  • 7. Factors lead to happy marriage:
    Maturation
    Commitment
    Sameness
    Forgiveness
    Conflict
    Communication
    Factors lead to marriage dissolution:
    Liberal attitude toward marriage
    Extramarital affair
    Sexual incompatibility
    Cohabitation
    Economic stress
    Spousal income deviation
    Age at time of marriage
    Premarital pregnancy
    Urbanization
    Findings
  • 8. Maturation sure does play an important part in marriage because that is the point in life when people know what they want and need in life; they know what their priorities; they also become more realistic, and fundamentally, they would not act impulsively in order to reach these goals (Pang, 1993). Consequently, this quality helps people to fully commit to their current relationship.
    Maturation
  • 9. Those who committed to their relationship are less likely to think of alternatives than those who do not, as the matter of fact, findings showed that men are likely to think of alternatives than their counterparts (Stanley, Markman & Whitton, 2002). Therefore, it is necessary that those in a closed relationship (e.g. marriage) should make a clear commitment toward their other halves, so that they could feel secure and trust in the relationship (Stanley, Markman & Whitton, 2002).
    Commitment
  • 10. The marital life would become happier and more contented when the couples shared similar interests, beliefs, and backgrounds (Bachand & Caron, 2001). From personal experiences, I find this is so true, as similarities do play a crucial part in the future of the marriage. Through their study, Bachan and Caron also found that happily married couples provided similar responses an indication contributing to their marriages survival (Bachand & Caron, 2001).
    Sameness
  • 11. People in general do make mistakes from time to time and that is unavoidable. Spousal mistakes in marriage are not an exception; however, it is essential that spouses learn to forgive. Forgiveness is another aspect that long lasting marriage cannot survive without, unfortunately, it receives very little attention in research (Fincham, Paleari & Gegaliak, 2002).
    Forgiveness
  • 12. In any type of relationship, particularly marriage, it is vital that people need to know how to handle conflict in a constructive manner and communicating positively to one another, as this will “create an environment that allows for deeper levels of self-disclosure and acceptance of vulnerabilities” (Stanley, Markman & Whitton, 2002, p.660). Otherwise, it can only lead to higher rate of divorce if partners react aggressively toward one another during conflict or completely withdraw when the other is trying to communicate (Stanley, Markman & Whitton, 2002). Only when spouses understand these fundamental factors have a strong effect in their marriages, until then they will find themselves in a happy and long lasting marriage.
    Conflict and Communication
  • 13. Strengths & Weaknesses
  • 14. Part of this project is to try to understand the historic view on marriage up through the present, but the main purpose is searching for answers that might help to deter divorce rate and to enhance marriage’s life.
    Our government and the mental health profession should acknowledge this is an issue and must do something to prevent this problem. Perhaps providing relationship education and counseling for the public, as many Asian countries have recognized and take steps forward to intervene, although they were far less advanced than we were on this field (Huang, 2005). Even though decline in marriage is on the rise, for those who want to get married, it is fundamental to have marital education and should be mandatory to those who decide to get married, as a way to enhance and “to build healthy marriages and families in today’s rapidly changing world” (Huang, 2005, p.172).
    Conclusion
  • 15. Are there ways to help people choose the right partner?
    How can we help people to realize whether they are ready or not ready for marriage?
    How can we help couples overcome problems in their marriage?
    What can we do to help partners or married couples who are unhappily married to become happy and satisfied with their marriages?
    Future Research Questions
  • 16. Bachand, L. L. & Caron, S. L. (2001). Ties that bind: A qualitative study of happy long-term
    marriages.Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, vol.23(1), 105-121.
    Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Retrieved November 1, 2010, from
    http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=11&hid=11&sid=0019150d-a4b6-4cb3-a22a-de6511938bf8%40sessionmgr13
    Coontz, S. (2007). The origins of modern divorce. Family Process, vol.46(1), 7-16. FPI, Inc.
    Retrieved November 1, 2010, from
    http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=9&hid=110&sid=0019150d-a4b6-4cb3-a22a-de6511938bf8%40sessionmgr13
    Fincham, F. D., Paleari, F. G. & Regalia, C. (2002). Forgiveness in marriage: The role of
    relationship quality, attributions, and empathy. Personal Relationships, vol.9(1), 27.
    Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection database. Retrieved November 18, 2010,
    from http://content.ebscohost.com.wf2dnvr2.webfeat.org/pdf13_15/pdf/2002/I8J/01Mar02/10454547.pdf?T=P&P=AN&K=10454547&S=R&D=pbh&EbscoContent=dGJyMNLe80Sep7Y4zOX0OLCmr0iep7RSs6i4Sq%2BWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGrsU2vp65KuePfgeyx44Hy7fEA
    Hawkins, D. N. & Booth, A. (2005). Unhappily ever after: Effects of long-term, low-quality
    marriages on well-being. Social Forces, vol. 84(1), 445-465. Psychology and Behavioral
    Sciences Collection. The University of North Carolina Press. Retrieved November 1, 2010,
    from http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=10&hid=17&sid=0019150d-a4b6-4cb3-a22a-de6511938bf8%40sessionmgr13
     
     
    References
  • 17. Huang, W.J. (2005). An Asian perspective on relationship and marriage education. Vol.44(2).
    FPI, Inc. Retrieved November 1, 2010, from
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    Huston, T. L. (2009). What’s love got to do with it? Why some marriages succeed and others
    fail. Personal Relationships, 16(3), 301-327. Retrieved November 1, 2010, from
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    Pang, L. (1993). Divorce in the United States vs. in China. Journal of Popular Culture,
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    Riggio, H. R. & Weiser, D. A. (2008). Attitudes toward marriage: Embeddedness and outcomes
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  • 18. Standley, S. M., Markman, H. J. & Whitton, S. W. (2002). Communication, conflict, and
    commitment: Insights on the foundations of relationship success from a national survey.
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    Weigel, D. J., Bennett, K. K. & Ballard-Reisch, D. S. (2003). Family influences on
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