The fight over same-sex marriage has been raging back and forth across the country for years now. First some states legalized same-sex unions, then some legalized same-sex marriage, then certain states made same-sex marriage illegal including recognizing marriages filed in other states, and the fight continues. Most recently, 8 couples are suing the state of Florida for refusing to recognize their marriages. The lawsuit, which has been filed by the ACLU of Florida, is challenging that Florida has the right to refuse to recognize their marriages. According to the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, “our historic victory in last year’s Supreme Court case striking down (the federal Defense of Marriage Act) means that many loving and committed Floridians have marriages that are recognized by the federal government. Sadly, Florida refuses to recognize those marriages, often at significant cost to their families. The time has come for Florida to end its discrimination against same sex couples, including those whose marriages are legally recognized elsewhere in our country and by the federal government.” The Defense of Marriage Act, which was instituted in 1995, still has an active Section which allows states to individually decide whether they will honor same-sex unions, however, and recently the people of Florida voiced their opinions. In 2008, 61% of voters made an amendment to the Florida state constitution banning gay marriage as well as recognizing out-of-state unions and domestic partnerships. This is not the first time that lawsuits have been brought against the government in Florida. Back in January, Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin was sued when his office refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While the case is still pending, the state has refused to comment, which has given conservative groups hope, and allowed them to take steps to protect the recent Florida marriage amendment. It is unknown what will happen with these 8 couples, but it is undeniable that the issue of same-sex marriage will continue to be a loaded one for quite a while to come.
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The divorce rate in the United States has dropped somewhat over the last decade to around forty percent.  Although this rate is still high, it is an improvement over that of the 1980’s when the divorce rate was hovering around fifty percent for all married couples.  

A recent study conducted by the Bowling Green State University Family and Marriage Center found that the divorce rate of younger couples is decreasing while that of couples over the age of fifty has nearly doubled in the past two decades. While many older couples may be divorcing, one older married couple has stayed together through thick and thin and is being recognized as America’s longest married couple.

John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Connecticut, were married 81 years ago during the Great Depression.  The couple was named as the longest married couple in the United States by World Marriage Encounter, a California Christian group based on a review of nominations sent in from around the country.

John and Ann eloped on November 25, 1932,  to avoid Ann’s father’s plan to marry her off to a man twenty years her senior. 

Although their life has not always been easy and Ann said that marriage isn’t a lovey-dovey thing for eighty years, she did say that you need to “accept another’s ways of life, agreements, disagreements” to have a happy marriage.

The Betars admitted they do argue over one thing in their lifetime together – cooking.  John jokes, “It’s only about the cooking, that’s the only arguments we had.” 

John, 102 years-old, says the secret to their happy and long marriage is, “Just contentment….with what you have, and what you’re doing.”

Ann, 98 years-old, said that you need to think about what you’re doing and if it’s wrong, straighten it out.

The advice the Betars have for married couples today; don’t expect your spouse to always agree with you and expect to have your way in all things. The secret to a happy marriage is  communication and compromise.

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Many times those couples who have enjoyed a long, happy marriage, find discord in their marriage once they retire.  Instead of enjoying their “golden years” these couples are experiencing serious marital problems that can actually threaten their marriage. 

According to a 2013 Fidelity Investment Couples Retirement Study, one of the reasons marital satisfaction drops and conflicts rise is because the married couple disagrees on how, when and where they will retire.  The survey discovered that:

  • Thirty-eight percent of couples disagree as to the lifestyle they expect to live once they retire
  • Thirty-six percent of couples do not agree on where they plan to live in retirement
  • One-third of couples approaching retirement don’t agree on whether they will continue working in retirement

When a couple retires, the dynamics of the marriage changes.  Instead of spending just a portion of the day together, the couple will now spend the majority of the day and night together.  The newly retired couple will need to not only work out how to spend time together, but also learn to give each other space, too.

Experts in the field have found that for some couples spending extended time together in retirement can bring out habits and characteristics in a spouse that are irritating and annoying.  These annoying traits were always there, but once a couple spends so much time together, they become more apparent and more aggravating.

When a couple retires, their life changes.  Many people view retirement as a loss of roles, income and productivity. A married couple needs to plan for retirement in more ways than financially.

When a couple retires, they initially find themselves in each others space as well as having too much time on their hands.  To successfully navigate retirement, the couple will need to grow both together and individually.  Looking for activities to do individually and as a couple, enrolling in a college course or volunteering will help keep a couple busy. 

Although it may take time to adjust to retirement, by keeping busy with new activities and by communicating openly and honestly with each other, a married couple can successfully navigate and enjoy this new phase in their lives.

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The United States Supreme Court heard arguments last week for and against government efforts to protect traditional marriage from same-sex marriage.  Whether or not the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional was under discussion by the court on Wednesday. 

DOMA was passed in 1996 and defines legal marriage as a marriage between a man and a woman and thus  prevents legally married gay couples from collecting federal benefits available to straight couples.

The New York Times reported the majority of the high court asked highly skeptical questions concerning the constitutionality of the law, with  justices voicing their opinions that marriage is a matter for the states, and not the federal government.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the pivotal justice on the issue, said DOMA ignores those states “which have come to the conclusion that gay marriage is lawful.”

According to an article in al.com, it appears that five of the nine justices are ready to strike down the act.  Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voiced her opinion  the law targeted gay couples by withholding things such as tax advantages, Social Security benefits and leave to care for a spouse.

If DOMA is struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the effect would be legally married gay couples in those nine states and the District of Columbia that now allow same-sex marriages would be eligible for federal benefits. 

A ruling by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of DOMA is  not expected until June of this year.

Original story found here.

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A study published in the December issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reports that mixed-weight couples – one partner is average weight whereas the other partner is overweight – not only argue more than same-weight couples, but have more feelings of anger and resentment towards each other, as well.  These negative feelings can cause problems both with intimacy and communication in a relationship or marriage.

In an online survey on TODAY.com, 55 percent of the 1,500 participants said weight differences have caused problems in their relationships.

In the article, one mixed-weight couple from Utah was profiled.  The woman in the relationship had weight problems her whole life, with her weight yo-yoing up and down.  She met her future husband while at college during a “skinny period” in her life.  However,  the “skinny period” did not last, as, by the time of their wedding, she had  gained twenty-five pounds and five years after their marriage, her weight  was up to 220 pounds.

Both partners were unhappy with the wife’s weight, but it was the wife’s unhappiness with her weight gain that strained the couple’s marriage to the point they were contemplating divorce.  Everything was centered around her weight; what they would eat; what activities they could do together; what clothes she would wear; and even whether or not they would appear together in public because she felt her husband was embarrassed by her appearance.

Researchers state that it is hard to determine which comes first in a mixed-weight relationship; conflict or weight gain, as stress over weight problems tends to lead to overeating. Experts do agree that one important key for success in a mixed-weight relationship is for the “normal weight” partner to never be verbally abusive by stating cruel remarks about his partner’s weight.  Another important key to encouraging weight loss and healthy eating, is for both partners to work together without causing feelings of anger or/and resentment in the overweight partner in the relationship. Working as a team supports the overweight partner and assists in easing feelings of anger, resentment and frustration and thus helps the couple create a more successful, happy relationship.

Original Article.

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Many marriage vows contain the words, “for richer or poorer.”  A new study by Brigham Young University and William Patterson University found that when both spouses’ emphasis is on the “for richer” part of their vows, there is a good possibility there will be trouble in the marriage.

The two university’s researchers surveyed 1,700 married couples with the intent of gauging the couple’s materialism.  These couples were asked whether they agreed with certain statements concerning materialism, such as “I like to own things to impress people” or “Money can buy happiness.”

The study’s lead author, Jason Carroll, a professor at BYU, said researchers found that materialistic couples had lower levels of responsiveness and less emotional maturity.  “Materialism was also linked to less effective communication, higher levels of negative conflict, lower relationship satisfaction and less marriage stability."  Researchers found those couples who had little interest in money scored 10 to 15 percent higher in the quality and satisfaction of their marriage.  Carroll also found the correlation between interest in money and marital satisfaction remained the same regardless of how wealthy the couple was.

The researchers discovered, however, when only one spouse had materialistic tendencies and the other spouse didn’t, the materialism of the one spouse did not negatively affect the marriage.  According to researchers, the nonmaterialistic spouse stabilized the marriage, and allowed the couple to balance each other out and improve their marital quality and satisfaction.

Although materialism may be a point of contention in a marriage, the authors want to stress that materialism alone isn’t to blame for marriage problems, as there are many other  issues that can negatively affect a marriage.  However, the researchers do feel that the materialistic tendencies of one or both spouses can play a large role in marriage dissatisfaction and marriage quality that in time could lead to divorce.

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