How Does Your Marriage Compare? More Interesting Findings…

The Normal BarMy recent post called “The #1 Thing Men Want More of is Not What You Think” caused quite a debate, with many disagreeing with the research findings or explaining what they feel as a combination of needs. The findings were based on “surprising” relationship secrets of 70,000 individuals surveyed in The Normal Bar, a new book.

I promised to give away a free copy of the book, and then I went on spring break. So, because of my delay, I’ll give away two copies of the book—one drawing held from commenters of the last post, and one from comments on this one. So, if you’d like a copy, just leave a comment, and I’ll throw your name into the hat.

I wanted to share a few morsels of some of the other results that surprised or interested me. Feel free to share your feelings on one of more of the following findings:

  • Two-thirds of couples do not agree with each other’s politics. Fewer than 10 percent of these couples say this seriously strains their relationships. That surprised me, because I wonder if this has to do with common values and worldviews being different in these couples, and also because so many couples I know seem to be similar in this way. But I’m glad they can work through this area of division.
  • Be more romantic. It bothers almost 29 percent of women “a lot” that their partner is not more romantic. But even more surprising is that a lack of sufficient romance bothers more men “a lot”—44 percent of them. Talk to your spouse about what they feel is romantic, and try to make a better effort in this area. Too often this advice comes to men, but women need to practice romance as well.
  • Three-fourths of all American couples have never taken a romantic vacation. What? Not even a honeymoon? This seems pretty deplorable to me, but I recognize that once the kids come, traveling without them (and without worrying about them) becomes such a challenge that many don’t find it worth the effort. If you’ve benefited from romantic vacations in the past, please share how they have impacted your relationship. Can you get a weekend away together?
  • Interrupting your partner is a big problem. People who are often interrupted by their partners are twice as likely to be unhappy in the relationship. This affects many couples—59 percent of both men and women say they are sometimes or frequently interrupted by their partners.
  • Laugh more! On the other side of the coin, happy couples laugh much more; 66 percent of happy couples laugh together often.
  • Criticize less. Sadly, 12 percent of couples who have been together more than a decade are criticized daily by their partner. Women tend to be the more critical spouse. Two-thirds of men say they are criticized “a lot”; slightly over half of women say the same of their spouse.
  • Having more money did not make relationships happier. In fact, the most wealthy couples were slightly less happy.
  • Going back to my last article, it’s true that men said they wanted better communication more than anything else. However, the surveys also reported that most men also wanted more sex. Sixty percent of men and 30 percent of women feel their sexual frequency is too low. On the other hand, 36 percent of men and 56 percent of women feel their frequency is just about right.
  • We all know that one of the most important characteristics of happy couples is that they spend time together. Surveyed individuals say they don’t spend enough time together because they are so busy, but 80 percent of these same couples said they typically spend an hour or more on the Internet daily for non-work matters. Twenty-six percent spend more than three hours on the Internet a day.  Can you consider cutting back Internet/TV or other screen time to invest some needed time with your spouse?

Which of these bullet points resonates with you or strikes you as odd? Of course there’s a lot more research in the book, so check it out if you like. Remember, though, what is “normal” for one couple is not helpful for another. The thing I do find helpful is to ask yourself if something you read about (lack of fun, criticizing your partner, etc.) might be holding your marriage back from being all it can be.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

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31 responses to “How Does Your Marriage Compare? More Interesting Findings…

  1. These are so interesting! I’d love to get a copy of the book and learn more!

  2. Very interesting….as a therapist, I think this book would be helpful!

  3. Good and important information – thanks for posting this Lori! I would love a copy of the book.

  4. That last one really gets me. The time issue comes down to priorities. If you prioritize your marriage, you will find a way to make time to stay connected. It’s not always easy, but it is SO important!

  5. I’d love to say that the romantic vacations research surprises me, but it doesn’t. With the economy the way it is, and with high rate of babies born out of wedlock it makes it very hard to “get away.” But many marriage experts would agree that it is important to the health of your marriage. Even if all you can do is a one night stay at a resort close to home, just getting that time out of the house alone is important to rekindle and rejuvinate your relationship.

  6. I’d love to say that I’m surprised at the findings about romantic getaways but I’m not. With the economy being what its been for years now and with the high rate of children being born out of wedlock the findings seem to fit. Regardless, as couples, we need to be taking the time to get away, even if just for one night a couple times a year. It really is important to the health and maintenance of our marriages.
    http://www.marriagelifeministries.org

  7. Interesting facts. Looks like it’d be an insightful read.

  8. Lori,
    Very good post.
    The first observation mentions agreeing/disagreeing on political views. This seems to fall under the respect issue for me. Since when do we have to agree on everything, especially politics? We need to respect the feelings of one another and maybe recognize that we don’t always agree. Don’t poke the bear, let each other have an opinion and don’t think it’s your responsibility to change your spouse and their opinions. Also, don’t base your relationship on wether of not your spouse “respects” you enough to agree with your position. Disagreeing doesn’t equate to disrespect.
    The other aspect that strikes me is taking time away together. If your kids are older and away from home, go…get away! Some of the biggest moments of your relationship can happen while on vacation. If your kids are young, find someone to care for them. They need you happy and nothing says happy like a few days to a week away. You simply have to make it happen. Make it a priority.
    Do these things and better communication will grow, you will learn to give more and want less, more romance will become a desire from each of you, respect will develop, and more sex will happen! You can’t demand these things individually. Put them all together and great things can and will happen.

  9. Lori

    I just so love reading your posts – they ring so true for me.

    Having had the bombshell “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” dropped on me almost 12 months ago, and 5 weeks ago had the “I think I realy need time apart to establish my own identity again, but I don’t know if I’ll come back”, I would wholeheartedly agree that the final point, about making sure you spend more time together is vital.

    We’ve been together for 8 years and married for 5 1/2, yet since the kids arrived 12 months after we married, time together as a couple doing fun things became a distant memory. The daily grind of being a stay-at-home-mum took its toll on my wife’s sanity, so she sought friendship online through Facebook with fellow mums etc, who know nothing about our life and have no idea about who I am. Then there was the old flame, who couldn’t be ignored.

    If we come through our current problems, one thing I will insist on is quality time together, with no phones, tablets or laptops allowed – technology has a place, but for me, its not at the centre of a marriage, otherwise that marriage will never grow……

    • Wishing you the best. Kids are a great blessing, but we do have to consciously set aside alone time. Glad you have your lessons learned for moving forward. And I hope your wife also dedicates herself to healing the marriage. It can be done.

  10. I agree completely with the humor and laughter! My husband and I are constantly laughing and making jokes together. A sense of humor in a relationship is one of the keys to success. If you can’t laugh at yourself or with one another, where is the fun?

    I also have to agree with the “getaways”! The last time we got away just the two of us was our honeymoon 9 years ago! We had our son within a few months of our 2nd anniversary. Since our 10 year anniversary is next year, we are truly praying for a getaway just the two of us. We have found that even a few hours of just us is highly needed and we enjoy every second of it.

    • Hope you get your 10-year trip! Date nights can be refreshing if they are well planned and not filled with talk about the kids and to-do lists. I agree about the sense of humor being such a great secret to success. Have fun!

  11. This is great information Lori. That part on interrupting your spouse stands out to me the most (and others too). Am a “hurried” person by nature and so often, i find myself just budging into whatever he’s doing and interrupting. Not a kind thing, So am working on it. I also liked that part of money and happiness. I think sometimes couples think they’d be happier with more money but really, nothing/no one can make us happy. We are responsible for our own happiness. Great information in that book!

    • I suffer from impatience as well. It’s a constant battle for those of us in a hurry to slow down and allow others to go at their pace. I agree that we are all responsible for our own happiness. Best to you.

  12. My best get away memory, was spending 2 nights away from the kids ~ 4 years ago at a near by (3hrs) hot springs resort. We went to celebrate our friends’ anniversary 2 weeks before Christmas (our is June), spending the first day there alone and skiing with our friends the next day. We spent our alone day walking, talking, and napping. We hit the outdoor soaking pools right as the sun was setting and the Christmas lights were coming up. It was magical. We have been back once since then, although that one trip was the most romantic. We also enjoy our shared joke that we celebrate our friends’ anniversary without them.

  13. The politics one surprised me…although it’s currently true in my own house. But I really dropped my jaw on the interrupting issue. I grew up in a house where talking over one another was no big deal, but it bothers my husband and it’s been hard for me to change that habit of interrupting. Obviously, I don’t want him to be unhappy, so I’m reminded to work on that.

    Thanks for these findings!

    • It’s so true that culturally certain actions like interrupting are acceptable in some circles more than others. I’ve also read that interrupting someone who is introverted is more hurtful in general, because they tend to speak less and put a higher value on a smaller amount of speech. I think listening more is a skill we can all benefit from.

  14. The romance thing gets me. I didn’t think either of us were romantic. Sometimes I would like a bit more romance, but never dreamed that he might! Something to explore in our marriage.

    • Many of us weren’t born romantic, but I think it does make our partner feel special if we put some extra effort in this area. Thanks!

  15. The criticism bit got me thinking. Lately I have really been working on eliminating the word “why” when I talk with my husband. I’m realizing it really is just criticism cloaked in a question.

    • Interesting observation. He may view the questioning as a form of criticism. Thanks for pointing out something many of us probably do on a regular basis.

  16. Danielle Barton

    very interesting… the internet one resonates with me!

  17. Lori, I was surprised by your finding about men feeling a lack of romance more than women. I reflected on it for a while and realized that that is probably true in my marriage as well. I think that’s because I am always trying to do something romantic for my wife to make her happy and she thinks that most of what I do is romantic (she’s very kind to me). I wonder if other husbands feel the same way. Perhaps that helps explain your findings? Thanks again!

    • Tyson, I too am a shameless romantic and always try to do romantic things for my wife, but rarely have had it reciprocated. We’re having a trial separation at present and one of the things cited as to why she doesn’t feel the same love for me anymore is that I sometimes seem to be too romantic, thinking too much about what I can do for her and, perhaps, doing what I think society has conditioned me to think I should, rather than what we want! Just can’t win can we?

      • Thanks for sharing your unique perspective. I’m not a marital therapist but it sounds like there is more going on than romance or lack of it. I’ve read an explanation by some marriage experts that when one spouse pulls away, pursuing them more (with romantic overtures, etc.) can make them want to pull away more. Imagine yourselves as on either end of a rubber band. Divorcebusting has some good materials on the pursuing/pulling away process. A pro-marriage counselor may help you understand how to get your marriage on track. In the mean time, it sounds like your wife is sharing her feelings and preferences with you, so that is positive. But I’m sure it is difficult for you when you feel you are trying so hard. There is hope for you to have a great marriage; don’t give up. Realize you may have to change your perspective about what is helpful and what may not be. I wish you the best.

    • Tyson, it’s admirable that you are always trying to do romantic things for your wife. I agree that we wives often need to make a better effort. Seeing the research opened my eyes to the fact that many hubbies crave this. Keep up the good work.

  18. I put all the commenters’ names into a pot and pulled out Kyle’s name, so I will be sending you a copy of The Normal Bar. Enjoy!

  19. Very interesting and helpful to marriage couples. It’s true that having more money did not make the relationship happier. Actually, living a frugal life is less complicated. Me and my spouse live on a budget and we are always challenge to save money for our romantic vacation! We love working as a team especially in choosing the place where to go next (from our bucketlist!) :) I’m very lucky and blessed that my husband is one of the few husbands out there who is very kind and romantic day in and day out! :D

  20. This book sounds like quite a gem! 70,000 couples cannot be wrong? My goodness, how long did it take to compile all that data?! The point that jumped out at me is that the wealthy were slightly less happy. Not surprising at all but for those who think a lac of money is the barrier to happiness, that could really be helpful.

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