Marital bliss is not determined by love

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  • Other factors contribute to living happily ever after

    It has always been celebrated as the heart of any long-lasting marriage. But love, it seems, is little more than a starting point.

    Far more important factors must come into play if a bride and groom are to have a hope of living happily ever after, according to academics.

    These include the ages of the couple when they marry, their level of education, how much they enjoy a drink and even whether they both smoke.

    Researchers came up with the factors by examining the relationships of nearly 2,500 couples over a six-year period. In this time, a quarter of the relationships ended. They concluded that half were likely to have broken down after 25 years.

    The reasons they found were what many of us already knew, or at least suspected. Age is a big factor. Couples who are young when they walk down the aisle will have less idea of what makes the best match, increasing the probability of a break-up later. But the same applies to those who marry older because the ‘marriage market’ at that stage in their lives may have produced less-than-perfect partners.

    Big differences in the age between husband and wife are also associated with higher rates of divorce, particularly if a wife is nine years or more younger than her husband. The same applies if the husband is significantly younger than his wife. Having children from a previous relationship can also take its toll.

    The researchers, from the Australian National University, found a husband losing his job can heighten the risk of a break-up, as can generally tough economic times. They also found couples who have similar drinking patterns are less likely to face a marriage bust-up.

    The same applies to smoking – if both enjoy lighting up there is less risk of separation, but if one smokes and the other abstains they are more likely to end up going their separate ways.

    Education also plays a vital part in the success of a marriage, according to the research. A husband and wife who each have a degree are more likely to remain together than couples who do not have higher educational qualifications. 




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