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What makes a healthy marriage?

Statistical trends still show that over half of married couples are likely to divorce. With this in mind, those who are getting ready to get married or who are currently married may wonder what it takes to succeed? What actually makes for a happy married life?

The question is not a novel one. It has existed for as long as society has recognized marriage — but one university has decided to bring this question into the spotlight and really dive into potential answers.

Northwestern University’s Marriage 101 includes discussions about popular books on marriage as well as reviews of academic studies on the topic. Some broad takeaways discussed in more detail within the course include:

  • Know yourself. It is important to have a good understanding of yourself to have a good marriage. Ideally, you have this understanding before getting married as this better increases the likelihood of a good marriage from the beginning.
  • Know how to handle conflict. You will likely argue with your spouse. This is normal. It is possible to have a good, healthy marriage and still have arguments. The key: knowing how to navigate the argument. Instead of looking at it as a winner takes all battle, try looking at the argument as a problem that you, as a couple, are trying to address together. Going through the problem together, instead of you versus me, can help you get through the conflict as a stronger unit.

The course also notes that not all marriages succeed. Without a similar worldview, for example, it is nearly impossible to empathize with a partner making a successful marriage extremely difficult.