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Study finds advice on marriage by examining the divorced

A 25-year-old study is suggesting that people seeking marriage advice head to an unexpected source: divorced people. This should not surprise couples in New Jersey, as divorced individuals have been through a marriage and learned what they would have changed the hard way. Considering this approach, divorce can help married couples learn from the mistakes of others to reaffirm and support their marriages in ways they may have not considered before.

The Early Years of Marriage Project -- the official name of the study -- is funded by the National Institutes of Health. More than 370 couples are involved in the study. All of the couples were in their first year of marriage in 1986 and, at the time, the individuals varied in age from 25 to 37 years old.

Since the study began, 48 percent of the couples have divorced -- this rate runs in line with the national divorce rate. Of those that divorced, a little more than 70 percent have started new relationships with 40 percent having remarried.

According to the lead researcher of the study, individuals that let go of both negative and positive feelings about a former spouse were more likely to move on in a healthier way. This came as a surprise as many believe that maintaining a positive relationship with a former partner is a good thing.

Another surprise to the study came when examining the issues that arise in a marriage regarding money. Almost half of the study's subjects said that finances put stress on their first marriages. Instead of fixing this in future relationships, 60 percent of those involved in new relationships do not share expenses with their partners. This is an area where many relationships need work.

It was also found that men need affective affirmation in order to remain happy in a relationship. This often comes in the form of a compliment or encouragement. Those husbands that were in relationships where affective affirmation was present were two times less likely to get divorced.

Source: Today, "Your divorced friends may give the best marriage advice," Joan Raymond, July 25, 2012

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