Want a Happy Marriage? Have a Big Wedding, Says Study

Researchers find a correlation; it also helps to have few prior sexual partners
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2014 7:30 AM CDT
Want a Happy Marriage? Have a Big Wedding, Says Study
If you need a wedding cake as big as this one, from the northern Philippines, you may be in for an excellent marriage.   (AP Photo/Dave Leprozo Jr.)

To boost your odds of a lasting marriage, you might want to extend the list of wedding invitations. Why? Perhaps because when a lot of people see you making your commitment, you're more likely to work to keep it, say researchers. Their new study finds that couples who had at least 150 guests were 52% more likely to have a high-quality marriage than those who had 50 or fewer guests. "Note, however, this finding is not about spending lots of money on a wedding party—it's about having a good number of friends and family in your corner," a sociology professor from the University of Virginia tells the Christian Post.

Researchers based their work on a survey of 418 people aged under 40 at the study's start, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study used questions on "marital happiness, confiding in one another, believing things are going well in the relationship, and thoughts of divorce" to define high-quality marriages. Some findings:

  • History matters: Those with fewer sexual partners prior to marriage had higher survey scores than did those with more partners. "More experience may increase one’s awareness of alternative partners,” the researchers say. "A strong sense of alternatives is believed to make it harder to maintain commitment to, and satisfaction with, what one already has."
  • Don't slide: "Sliding" into big transitions "like having sex, moving in together, having a child, and, of course, getting married" was linked to weaker relationships, researcher Scott Stanley explains on YouTube. "Sliding," he says, refers to simply "letting (an event) happen," whereas "deciding" refers to making a conscious choice about the transition, the study explains. Those who casually decide to move in together may find it more difficult to get out of a so-so relationship down the road and wind up "sliding" into a so-so marriage, the study says.
Be warned, however: Having a big wedding can also go quite wrong. (More wedding stories.)

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