Did you know that the rate of infidelity in American marriages has not increased in 20 years, even though attitudes toward adultery have loosened in the past 40 (worried he’s cheating? Here are 10 surefire ways to tell)? More facts, in addition to tips for success are included in the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project’s annual report “The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2009.” You can click through the project’s welcome page to read the 116 page report—or just get the abbreviated version here.
Our friends at The Huffington Post have thoughtfully pared the report’s findings down to a few key points as an entry point into more advanced-level marital strategy.
1. Marriage is as much an economic, as an emotional partnership
This is one area the recession of 2009 has helped families strengthen their bonds. Mutual belt-tightening and simple lifestyle shifts, such as more cooking and eating together at home have united families in both financial agreement and increased communication and quality time.
Switch traditional financial responsibilities
Generally women tend to make the everyday purchasing decisions in a household and men the long-term investment choices. UVA professor Richard T. Wilcox suggests flipping the responsibilities. Women tend to enjoy shopping more and therefore spend more, getting an emotional as well as practical pay-off out of the experience. A man will typically have more spending discipline when it comes to household shopping. But as far as investing goes men are more likely to be overconfident and risky whereas a woman will seek outside advice from a professional, making more informed and prudent financial choices ultimately.
3. Accumulating “stuff” does not a happy relationship make
Getting on the same page with your family budget is a good first step toward harmony, but if you are still harboring materialistic feelings that a “thing” like a car or house or gold-plated toilet are going to make you feel more whole you will undermine the satisfaction you can get from your loved one. Now, don’t get us wrong: it’s still a hoot to watch audience members blowing their tops on Oprah’s annual “Favorite Things” episode!
4. Define your own roles
The idea of the man as sole or even main breadwinner has been going the way of the Dodo for decades. Now with a major increase in male unemployment and more women continuing to work post-childbirth, it is time to redefine our ideas of success and contribution in a working relationship. Men can be caregivers, women can be breadwinners and that can shift over the years as well. You get to chose how you feel about each other’s contributions so why not set them and agree that they are all valued?
Time spent together communicating, compromising and just hanging out are a sure way to increase the return on your marriage. Lucky for us the economy is giving us just the slightest nudge to force these practices into action!