This who have been married for 20 years,

This paper compares Ron and Shauna, a couple who have been married for 20 years, and Karen and George, a divorced couple who were together for 25 years before they divorced. There are five concepts about marriage that relate to both of their relationships. The five concepts are: (1)gender roles in the household, (2) conflict resolution, (3) having children, (4) financial stability, and (5)communication. Shauna and Ron didn’t conform to traditional gender roles in marriage, which helped their marriage, while Karen and George adhered to these roles for some time which put a strain on their marriage. Shauna and Ron are willing to work together to resolve any conflicts as a result of open communication, while George and Karen had poor communication methods which led to a lot of unresolved conflict. Shauna and Ron waited over 10 years to have a child, which gave them time to get to know each other and truly learn about each other. Karen and George had children very early in their relationship, which at times put a strain on their relationship. Shauna and Ron don’t have a lot of money, but are still very happy and in love with each other, while Karen and George didn’t have to worry about money, but they still ran into conflicts in many other aspects of their marriage. Karen and George also were not always willing to effectively communicate with each other which put a big strain on their relationship. In contrast, Ron and Shauna are very open with their communication and make it a point to effectively communicate with each other. These interviews have led me to conclude that being flexible in a marriage and maintaining open and healthy communication are the keys to a successful marriage.PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 3Introduction Shauna and Ron have been a couple for 24 years. They got engaged after dating for 2 years and got married two years later on their fourth anniversary. They have been married for 20 years now. They are both 45 years old. Ron works as a limo driver and Shauna is a loss prevention worker at JCPenney. They have a son who is 8 years old. I met Ron and Shauna through my mother as they are close friends. Ron and Shauna are currently focused on living their lives happily and taking care of their child. They didn’t have their son until they had already been married for over ten years, and they now are focused on establishing a good family environment for him. Karen and George are a divorced couple who were married for 15 years before they officially divorced. They had only dated for less than a year before getting married and separated at about 14 years into their marriage. They are both in their 50s. During the time of their marriage, George worked in the Air Force while Karen initially was a stay at home mom. Eventually, Karen began to work at JCPenneys and has established a career there. Throughout the marriage, Karen and George had two sons who are now 19 and 22. Karen also has a daughter PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 4from a previous marriage who is now 32. I know the relationship between Karen and George very well because they are my parents. They have now been divorced for almost 6 years now and neither have new partners that they have settled down with. They are adjusted to their new lives apart from each other, but there are still times when the divorce somewhat haunts them and effects them negatively. Promoting Flexibility and Healthy Communication in MarriageAnyone who has been married will tell you that it is not easy. There are a lot of compromises that must be made and a lot of effort has to be put into establishing a healthy marriage. After interviewing these two couples, I have realized that there are actually a lot of similarities between the two couples in the earlier stages of their relationships, but as time went on their paths significantly differed. There are five concepts that played a major role in both couple’s marriages. These concepts are: Roles in the Household, Conflict Resolution, Having Children, Financial Stability, and Communication. Approximately 35 to 45 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce (Strong & Cohen, 2014). These two couples provide a good example of this. From interviewing these couples, I have been let to the conclusion being flexible and maintain healthy communication is essential for a healthy marriage, and if a couple can establish a strong basis in these five concepts, then their marriage will have a good foundation and have a better chance in finding long-term success. PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 5Concept 1: Roles in the HouseholdGender roles play a huge part into the overall perception of marriage. In the traditional view of marriage, men have been seen as the breadwinners, and women have been expected to take care of things at home. But, in recent years, women have been breaking down traditional gender roles in marriage and now these traditional views on marriage are slowly receding. According to Mark Ellman, as women’s roles in the workforce have expanded, rates of marriage have actually been on the decline (2007). When George and Karen began dating, they were both working. It stayed this way until I was born, in which Karen began staying at home to take care of me and my sister. In the interview, Karen stated that while she didn’t mind taking care of me at home and taking care of our household, resentment began to grow because she never got to chase her dream career while my father was out working all the time. She just wished that instead of putting so much focus on his own career, my father would have focused on hers as well. George stated in the interviews that he just was doing what he thought was best and didn’t see a problem with my mom taking care of the household. My mother essentially took care of everything in our household, from cleaning to cooking and everything in between. My father had a very demanding job and he just felt it was better this way. When my mom did eventually begin to work again, she was in her 30s and felt like time had slipped away from her. My father didn’t mind her working and enjoyed the additional income that she brought home, but he always said that it wasn’t necessary and kind of wanted her to just take care of me and my siblings. When asked, they both agreed that this put a strain on their relationship and when asked if they would handle this situation differently, my dad said that he really wishes he would have been more open PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 6when considering how my mother felt. My mother stated that she wishes that she wouldn’t have listened to my father and pursued her aspirations. Ron and Shauna have had a completely different experience when it comes to gender roles in their marriage. When asked how they handled the workload in the household, they stated that whoever was better at something would be the one to handle it. Shauna would cook more often than Ron, but if needed, Ron would always help with cooking or handle chores around the house. They both have been holding jobs ever since they have a couple. Shauna stopped working temporarily when she had their child, but got right back to work as soon as she was ready too. For them, gender roles essentially didn’t have any effect on their marriage. They just both would do whatever was needed or the other couldn’t do, and tried their best to help out equally in the household. They attribute some of their marital success to this flexibility in their household roles, as they believe that it helped relieve unnecessary stress and pressure from their marriage while showing a willingness to help and compromise with their partner. Concept 2: Conflict Resolution Conflict resolution is an essential skill to have in any marriage. Conflict will arise in any marriage, and in order to keep and promote a healthy marriage, both partners must be willing to work and come to compromises. How couples handle conflict is one of the biggest determinants when measuring marital success and happiness (Strong & Cohen, 2014). It is a common view that marital distress comes from an ineffectual response to conflict (Fincham & Beach, 1999). So, in order to battle this marital distress, couples have to be open to effective conflict resolution methods. When asked about conflict in their marriage, Shauna and Ron stated that they don’t get into arguments very often. They refuse to let little petty arguments get in the way of their love for PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 7each other. They admitted that they face major conflicts just like everyone else, but they try to keep an open mind to each other and let their love lead the way. They did state that they have had several conflicts arise that they couldn’t find a solution too, but when this occurred, they would try their best to find a middle ground that they both could agree upon. After 20 years of marriage, this is still their approach to conflicts and they seem very happy together. Karen and George were similar to them in the earlier stages of their relationship. They both agreed that they were open in their communication and willing to listen to each other. But as time went on, this pattern of communication faded away and they began to argue and not settle their disputes. My mother said that my father wasn’t willing to listen as much as he used to and was not open to communication. My father actually agreed that this was true and stated that he wishes that he was more willing to try to settle their conflicts. Both my mother and father agreed that they were both very stubborn at times and regret that they acted in this way. They also both agreed that their divorce was in large part due to this issue. They both have many regrets when it comes to conflict resolution and they both wish that they would have handled it differently.Concept 3: Having ChildrenThere is a very interesting contrast between these two marriages in terms of having and raising children. Karen and George already had a child from my mother’s previous marriage. They also decided that they wanted to have children shortly after they got married. Ron and Shauna were very different as they focused on themselves and their lives before deciding to have children over ten years into their marriage. In his article, Richard Miller found that while having children may not always be detrimental to a marriage, it can lead to a lot of additional conflict and put added pressure on the relationship (2000). In the case of my parents, they did agree that PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 8having children did put a lot of pressure on them and they also agreed that in retrospect, they didn’t necessarily get to enjoy their marriage as long as they would have liked. Shauna and Ron were the opposite and wanted to enjoy their marriage and each other for as long as possible. After over ten years of marriage, they decided that they were ready to have children. They stated that this had a positive effect on their marriage, as it allowed them to fully learn and understand one another before jumping into parenthood. My parents did state that while having kids put added pressure on their marriage, seeing each other’s parental behavior made them more attracted to one another and brought them somewhat closer during their marriage. Concept 4: Financial StabilityMoney can be one of the single biggest strains on a marriage. Life is tough, and expensive, and if money is scarce, it can lead to a very stressful marriage. Laying out a strong financial foundation is one of the keys to a successful marriage (Lowes, 1999). Karen and George didn’t have to worry about money except for early in the relationship because my dad worked his way up in the military and eventually landed a well-paying position. My mother sometimes worked to help out, but the additional income wasn’t necessarily needed. In the case of Ron and Shauna, they both have help jobs throughout the course of their marriage, but neither of them have landed well-paying positions. Regardless, they get by and make ends meet with the jobs that they have. They say that while having more money would be nice, they don’t let it affect their relationship with each other. They share bank accounts and in their household, what is Ron’s is Shauna’s and vice versa. My parents held joint and separate bank accounts. Both of my parents agreed that having enough money to live comfortably was nice, but it did not take away from their problems at home. They were living well, but issues other than money stood in PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 9the way of their marriage. Shauna and Ron don’t have a whole bunch of money, but are very happy with where they are at and are more focused on the love they have for each other and their child than money. This is a very interesting contrast because it shows that while having money can help a relationship, it isn’t a deal-breaker and in many circumstances may not matter at all.Concept 5: CommunicationA couple’s satisfaction in their marriage can be directly tied to how well they can communicate (Strong & Cohen, 2014). Open communication is extremely important for any marriage and if a couple can’t effectively communicate, then the chances of their marriage lasting will not be high. In his article, Joseph Ducanto stated that continuing effective communication is imperative to the success of a marriage and if a couple does not continually work on their communication, then their relationship will have a higher chance of failure. Shauna and Ron have stated that they are always open with each other in their communication. If they have something to say to one another they will say it, and they will always try to talk about and resolve their issues. They also said that they don’t keep secrets, and when one of them is talking, they make sure to pay attention and listen. My parents stated that while their communication was good in the earlier stages of their marriage, as time went on it degraded. They wouldn’t pay as much attention to what the other would say and didn’t feel any urgency to resolve their issues through effective communication. Instead, they admitted that they would often argue and these arguments could get very bad. They weren’t willing to effectively communicate with one another and find compromise with each other. They both also agreed that in retrospect, this poor communication was another major factor in the degradation of their marriage.Conclusion PROMOTING FLEXIBILITY AND HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN MARRIAGE 10While doing this project, I learned the importance of effective communication and flexibility in a relationship. I witnessed my parent’s marriage fall apart, but I was young and didn’t really understand what was going on at the time. I just knew that they argued a lot. It was interesting to hear their perspectives on why their marriage failed. It was also interesting to interview Ron and Shauna and look into their relationship. They seem so happy and in love with each other and after 20 years of marriage, I think that is really amazing. One day, I hope that I can have a relationship like theirs. I love how open they are with their communication and also how willing they are to compromise and help one another. I have always used my parents as an example of what not to do when it comes to marriage. It sounds mean and wrong, but after experiencing it, I just do not ever want my children to have to suffer through arguments between me and my future wife. I also do not plan on divorcing my future wife at all. That is why I like Shauna and Ron’s approach because they waited four years before marrying, so they gave themselves ample time to learn about each other. The only thing that I don’t necessarily like about their relationship is how they waited over ten years to have a child. I would like to have my child much earlier into my relationship if possible. I am only 22 right now, so marriage isn’t even a thought for me right now, but when I do get married, I want to have a fun-loving and strong relationship with my wife. I want us to be willing to work out any of our problems and not fight over stupid things. Most of all, I want us to be honest and open with our communication. These are the keys to success in marriage. If I can do that, then I know I can have a successful marriage in the future

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