Psychological Well-Being Affected by Quality of Marriage

As centuries have gone by, the expectations that couples have for their marriages have changed significantly. According to the article by Finkel, Cheung, Emery, Carswell, and Larson, couples in this new era now have higher needs they want to have fulfilled. However, they are not putting in the necessary amount of effort to help nurture their relationship, which is needed in order to fulfill those needs.

Because of these different expectations couples now have for their marriages, they may feel dissatisfactory and not happy since their husband or wife is not giving them what they want. On the other hand, if married couples are investing quality time into their relationship, then the level of satisfaction will be very high, and they will feel a great amount of happiness.

This is due to the fact that when higher needs are accomplished, you feel a larger amount of pleasure and contentment. These ideas are all based off the suffocation model which explains how the quality of a marriage affects couples psychologically, giving emphasis on the reasons that people may marry.

People get married because they have different needs they expect to have satisfied by their significant others, and according to the model, these specific necessities have an impact and greatly influence what kind of marriage they will have: either a positive one, or a not so satisfying one.

The authors give various arguments about how the levels of well-being are affected by the type of marriage they are in. They support this by stating the main focuses and needs that marriages in the past centuries had and how they differ from recent times. To do this, they divided the eras into three categories from different time periods.

The first time period is from 1776 to 1850 and is referred to as the institutional era. During this time, people worked from their own homes and protection forces were almost nonexistent.

Because of this, couples who got married mainly looked for spouses who could provide them protection, which they heavily relied on, along with someone who could support them by giving them a roof over their head and bring food to the table. The next era they categorize from 1850 to 1965 is named the companionate era.

In this time period, the husbands would now start working outside of the home, and the United States was much wealthier than it had been before. Since married couples found it easier to meet financial needs, they could focus more on the love aspect of their relationship. The final era they state is labelled the self-expressive era which dates from 1965 to the present.

There is a greater emphasis on the personal self in this time. This doesn’t mean they don’t look for their love and other basic needs to be fulfilled, but they focus more on esteem and self-actualization.

Given these three eras of marriages, the authors support their claim by stating that it is much easier to fulfill their significant other’s lower expectations, such as providing food and safety, than it was to fulfill their higher needs, such as helping each other grow. While less invested time in a marriage would probably have worked before, couples need to invest a greater amount of time into their relationship today or else they won’t receive the same level of satisfaction.

Being the daughter of divorced parents, I can see the points being made in the article being applied to them. At one point when they both used to live at home, my dad used to work during the day and my mother during the night, so they wouldn’t see each other for a whole lot. When my mom would stop working and start being at home, she would cook meals and we’d eat as a family, but that was about all they would do.

My parents wouldn’t go on dates anymore or even sit down and have a meaningful conversation. They were both meeting the lower expectations and needs of providing a home, food, and others of that sort, but they were investing no quality time into their marriage.

My parents didn’t fulfill each other’s needs of self-expression, growing as a person, and spontaneity, the higher-level needs, so it was to no surprise when they both decided to separate. They chose to do this instead of putting quality time and effort to nurture and let their marriage flourish.

With no doubt did this article give me a new perception about marriages and what they need in order to function. Relating back to my parents, I always had different explanations I’d tell myself about why their marriage didn’t work out. This article included those reasons in addition to more information and knowledge I found helpful in knowing why my parents’ marriage failed.

It is truly an all-or-nothing situation nowadays when it comes to marriage, as the authors claimed. I feel this article was successful in enlightening me about this topic and changing the way I view marriages, since I am now more aware and have more information. I wish I would have read this article at a much sooner time, that way I would tell my parents what they needed to improve on in order to feel satisfied. I am certain this article will stay with me for a very long time.

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