But that’s a descriptor, not a recipe.
“If couples try to inject gratitude, or any other positive behavior…in a way that is not authentic,” says Amie Gordon, a researcher, “it could well backfire. Researchers are generally “looking at what happens naturally in a relationship.”
Other factoids jump out in marriage world. In general, the length of marriage is inversely proportional to what the wedding cost.
But doesn’t mean that skimping on the wedding will help in the long run.
As someone recently divorced, I’ve thought a lot about what could’ve gone differently. Our wedding was super cheap. Check. We had similar values. Check. Both of us came from intact families. Check. Check.
But when things went sideways I put limits on electronics usage. No. That just made him resentful. He paid me ever less attention, which made me resentful. At least when he offered to quit his job, I knew better than to go along with that. His job was his identity—part of the problem, of course—but I couldn’t fix that.
Vicki Larson, co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels argues that you can’t just follow rules—gratitude, religion, values—and a marriage to be like making a cake.
“You can’t affair—or divorce-proof a marriage because you can’t control another person’s behavior, you can only control your own. And even if you fight well, even if you’re having sex, even if you’re doing all the things in a marriage,” anyone could possibly imagine might be helpful, “you can’t control what your spouse is doing.
“All you can do is just really be the best person you can,” she said recently in the New York Times, “and then hope that you married the right person.”
Maybe so, but I did notice yesterday at Barnes and Noble that the self-help section is right next to the “Weddings” section.
If they really wanted to sell books they should have a “Spouse Help” section.