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Divorced friends can share pitfalls of marriage

The key to a strong marriage? A conversation with a friend who has gone through a divorce.

That's according to the results of a long-term study funded by the National Institutes of Health, which began its report on marriage and divorce more than a half-century ago. The study says that Texans, and all Americans, should consult with divorced friends about what lessons they took from their marriage and what they wish that had done differently.

The "Early Years of Marriage Project," as it is called, looked at 373 couples between ages 25 and 37 who had been married less than 12 months in 1986. Between then and 2011, 46 percent of the couples went through a divorce. Among the divorced couples, 70 percent of those interviewed about their first marriages are in new relationships, including some remarriages.

The divorced individuals had much to share. Among what they could share with newly married friends:

•· Nearly half of those interviewed said money issues harmed their marriages. About 60 percent of those who found new relationships do not merge their finances.

•· Men need consistent support and encouragement, along with compliments. Husbands were happy when their wives made them feel special on a regular basis. Men need this support more than women do, according to the report.

•· Let go of anger as well as of happy thoughts of an ex. Those who are unconcerned about their exes are better.

The study will continue, watching what happens in remarriages. The lead researcher expressed interest in seeing if the participants fare better in a second marriage. Additionally, researchers will continue to look for couples that break up after 25 years of marriage.

People enter marriage with love and good feelings that the relationship will last forever. Perhaps it is wise, as the study recommends, to be advised before marriage of all the pitfalls life could hold after the couple exchanges vows. In turn, it would likely cut down on the number of divorces in today's society.

Source: Today, "Your divorced friends may give the best marriage advice," Joan Raymond, July 25, 2012

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