Marriage

How Viewing Cute Animals Can Help Rekindle Marital Spark

One of the well-known challenges of marriage is keeping the passion alive after years of partnership, as passions tend to cool even in very happy relationships.

In a new study, a team of psychological scientists led by James K. McNulty of Florida State University has developed an unconventional intervention for helping a marriage maintain its spark: pictures of puppies and bunnies.

Previous research has shown that, in many instances, marriage satisfaction declines even when day-to-day behaviors stay the same. This led McNulty and colleagues to hypothesize that an intervention focused on changing someone’s thoughts about their spouse, as opposed to one that targets their behaviors, might improve relationship quality.

Specifically, the research team wanted to find out whether it was possible to improve marital satisfaction by subtly retraining the immediate, automatic associations that come to mind when people think about their spouses.

“One ultimate source of our feelings about our relationships can be reduced to how we associate our partners with positive affect, and those associations can come from our partners but also from unrelated things, like puppies and bunnies,” McNulty explained.

Repeatedly linking a very positive stimulus to an unrelated one can create positive associations over time – perhaps the most famous example of this kind of conditioned response is Pavlov’s dogs, who salivated at the sound of a bell after being exposed to multiple pairings of meat and the bell sound.

WATCH: 90-Year-Old Man Serenades Love of His Life on 70th Wedding Anniversary

McNulty and colleagues designed their intervention using a similar kind of conditioning called evaluative conditioning: Images of a spouse were repeatedly paired with very positive words or images (like puppies and bunnies). In theory, the positive feelings elicited by the positive images and words would become automatically associated with images of the spouse after practice.

Participants in…

Why The Current Wedding Vow Is Not Realistic Enough And What It Should Say Instead

We like to think that marriage is a beautiful thing, and that getting divorced is the worst ending anyone can have. But the truth is, the divorce rate today is so high that we shouldn’t be shocked if someone we know tells us they’re getting a divorce.

The map above lets us compare the divorce rate around the world. We can see that a lot of the areas are coloured red, indicating a divorce rate of 40% or above, which means a high divorce rate is now a worldwide phenomenon.

As of 2016, the Maldives has the highest national divorce rate, with 10.97 couples out of 1000 people divorcing each year.[1] Not far behind is the US at 3.6 divorces per 1000 people each year. This makes us wonder: why do we want to get married in the first place? Do the reasons for getting married also explain why so many of us regret later on?

In fact, there may be some ‘right reasons’ and ‘wrong reasons’ when it comes to marriage…

Initially, people get married because it somehow locks themselves up from temptations which can be bad for them in the long term.

Sometimes, we get sudden, strong feelings that compel us to do things that we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes, we lose control and make the wrong decisions. We get scared when that happens, and we wish we had a way to stop ourselves. This is perfectly normal. Psychologists even believe that some of us were born like this:[2]

You may have heard of a psychology experiment called the ‘marshmallow test’. What it tells us is that some children have a harder time resisting the temptation of instant happiness, even if they are told waiting will bring more satisfaction at a later time. And, unfortunately, their lack of impulse control seems to continue to affect them when they grow up, making them less successful in life.

This perhaps explains why affairs and one-night stands—the regrettable mistakes, usually happen on the spur of the moment. It is human to have impulses, but we need something powerful to help us fight the bad impulses at moments of weakness.

Which is why some people choose to get married: they voluntarily get ‘locked up’ by committing to a marriage, hoping that it would make them feel guilty enough to stay away from their darkest desires when any arise.[3] They want to be reminded of what is important in the long run.

And instead of getting married out of wants, some people get married out of…

8 Money Moves to Make Before You Remarry

Every year, about three per 1,000 Americans divorce from their spouse. Since about seven per 1,000 Americans marry every year, there is a chance that some divorcees will eventually tie the knot again with a new partner.

But before you remarry, you should evaluate your finances. Let’s review eight money moves that will set you both up for financial safety and success.

1. Make Amendments to Your Will (or Make One!)

The joy of finding love again can make you look at everything through a rosy filter. While no one likes thinking about their mortality, especially close to a big wedding day, the reality is that not updating your will could leave your new partner (and potential dependents) with a messy court battle for your estate. Review your current will and update it as necessary. For example, you may redistribute your estate to include your new dependents and choose a different executor — a person who will manage your estate and carry out the orders in your will.

If you don’t have a will, then setting one up should become the top priority of all money moves before you remarry. In the absence of a will, a judge will appoint an administrator who will execute your estate according to your state’s probate laws. What is legal may not be the ideal situation for your loved ones, so plan ahead. (See also: What You Need to Know About Writing a Will)

2. Update Beneficiaries Listed on Your Retirement Accounts

Even after setting up or updating your will, you still need to update the list of beneficiaries listed for your retirement accounts. This is particularly important for 401K plan holders. The Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA) stipulates that a defined contribution plan, such as a 401K, must provide a death benefit to the spouse of the plan holder.

Your beneficiary form is so important that it can supersede your will under many circumstances. When updating your beneficiary form before you remarry, there are three best practices to follow:

  • Get written consent from your previous spouse, if applicable, to make changes;
  • Second, designate only children who are of legal age so they can actually carry out their wishes;
  • Third, find out the tax implications for beneficiaries other than your spouse as a large windfall could unintentionally create a financial burden.

3. Consider Setting Up a Trust

Since we’re talking about potential financial burdens, many of them could come out of an estate with lots of valuable assets being divided among many beneficiaries, many of them very young.

When you have accumulated a lot of wealth over the years, you could be better served by a trust than by a will for several reasons, including keeping your estate out of a court-supervised probate, maintaining the privacy of your records, and allowing you to customize estate distribution. While the cost of setting up a trust can be up to three times that of…