I wrapped up the audiobook of For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed not too long ago. Summed up as: Interesting Facts but Short on Substance.
I’ve referenced a few nuggets in previous posts from the first half of the book, things like infidelity is a symptom of a poor marriage, and not the cause of one (usually). Overall, the book looked at a variety of academic studies primarily related to marriage and marital happiness. Nothing was really earth shattering in my mind. Topics like division of household labor was discussed extensively, and how women’s household hours went up even more than men’s after marriage or after kids. However, I don’t believe they ever discussed these data points in the context of how many hours a week she worked outside the home, if at all. My interpretation of this is it averaged out SAHM or SAH Wife, part time woman workers and full time employed wives and in doing so, artificially elevated the discrepancy in housework hours between wife and husband to some degree. If you read between the lines of that section, they are saying men should do more housework for a happier marriage. At the end of the chapter, she even implied that the man would get more sex. That old gag that we’ve been hearing for years.
Other interesting things: happier couples say “we”, “us”, “our” when telling their how-we-met stories, vs. less happy couples using “I”, “mine”. Arguing and fighting are not a good indicator of happiness in a marriage. In fact, some studies showed those that bottled up their conflicts had more likelihood for divorce than those that let the pressure dissipate by more frequent discussions. How you fight is important though, as mentioned here: How to Fight With Your Spouse. They also talk about how a healthy marriage is more healthy for men (since wives press them to take care of themselves, go to the doctor, etc.), how finances impact marriage, and how kids make marriage hard (the first 3-5 years of having a kid make things very difficult and divorce occur more frequently). Like I said, nothing earth shattering.
While the author tends to cherry pick some of the results and conclusions, it is still semi-interesting. For example, the “MOST STRESSFUL” individual events in our lives, according to one study are:
1. Death of a spouse
3. Marital separation
4. Prison or Jail
5. Death of a close family member
6. Major injury or illness
7. Getting married
8. Getting fired
9. Reconciliation of a marriage (coming back after separation)
In family feud style, I would have guessed moving would be on the list. Look though, marriage or breaking up of one make up four of the ten spots, and getting divorced is more stressful than going to jail.
I was hoping they’d get into more of the importance of sex in marriage as that is often the elephant in the room in many marriages and marital happiness. They nibble at the edges but never get that deep into the critically important subject. It does provide some talking points on many subjects for those looking to get married, but it focuses on the Good Housekeeping version of marriage (finances, kids, housework) and less on the core part of what marriage means for most men: A) Someone who you love and will share a frequent sex life B) a stable foundation for which to raise kids – without those things men’re better off getting a dog or roommate and not deal with the inevitable divorce or life-sucking that occurs in sexless marriages with men who are still “alive”. Marital dynamics (the leader approach for men), the role of medication (hormonal birth control, SSRIs), and mental illness (bipolar disporder) were also not discussed in any meaningful way.
Despite my less than glowing review, if you want to see how you compare, it’s worth a check-out from the library, and the audiobook kept me occupied until the second Gunslinger book came in for check-out, so it wasn’t a total waste.
Have a nice Memorial Day Weekend all. I’m hoping to get completely through a peer copy-edit of a dense book by one of our favorite verbose Red Pill authors that is nearing publication deadline goal.