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Do formal weddings make happier marriages?

Couples who undergo a formal wedding are more likely to have a happier marriage, new research suggests.

A report recently published by the National Marriage Project examines links between the lives of 418 couples and the quality of their marriages. The latter was assessed by the answers the couples gave to questions about the happiness of the relationship, how frequently they confided in their partner and other factors.

The National Marriage Project publishes data relating to marriage and family life in the US.

According to their findings, couples who had had formal weddings were more likely to enjoy successful, happy marriages according to the research criteria: 41 per cent, compared to only 28 per cent of those had undergone more casual wedding ceremonies.

The researchers also found a link between marital happiness and bigger weddings – those to which a larger number of guests had been invited.

The report cites a number of possible explanations for the link. Couples who already had children or in which the woman is pregnant are less likely to have a formal wedding, it says – and such couples are also statistically more likely to have an unhappy marriage.

In addition:

“…there is some reason to believe that having more witnesses at a wedding may actually strengthen marital quality. According to the work of psychologist Charles Kiesler (1971), commitment is strengthened when it is publicly declared because individuals strive to maintain consistency between what they say and what they do.”

Read the full report, entitled Before I Do, here.

Last month, a separate study published by researchers at the University of Madison-Wisconsin found that wives with less educated spouses are no longer more likely than other women to get divorced.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    “In addition:
    …there is some reason to believe that having more witnesses at a wedding may actually strengthen marital quality.”
    I think it likely that this is spurious, such an effect is in my opinion not going to last. What I think is far more likely to be the case is that people who can afford large weddings are more likely to be successful and have money.

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