Education Week: What to know before choosing a spouse


BYU Associate Professor of Psychology Scott R. Braithwaite discussed the importance of marriage and how to find the right person on Wednesday, August 17 during Education Week.

“Marriage is easily the most important decision you will ever make,” Braithwaite said. He proceeded to show multiple quotes from LDS general authorities verifying his statement and then asked what are some of the most frustrating things faced when dating to find a spouse.

Photo courtesy of Maddie Driggs.

After allowing participants to talk among themselves, Braithwaite said that many of the stressors of dating can  be avoided if young adults choose to be informed about the psychology of marriage.

Braithwaite proceeded to highlight three misconceptions during dating that need to be overcome to have a successful marriage.

Birds of a feather flock together or opposites attract?

One of the largest contradictions of dating is deciding whether someone believes opposites attract, or if it is best to date someone similar to himself or herself. Braithwaite shared multiple studies that showed it is actually better for individuals to date people who are similar to him or her, rather than an “opposite.”

“The more alike the two people are the better their marriage is predicted to do,” Braithwaite said. This is because the two people’s similarities allow for a firm foundation early on in marriage, according to the speaker. The first few years of marriage are often the most critical, so it is best to be on the same page with your spouse from the beginning.

“How happy you are on the day you get married is one of the best predictors of how your marriage is going to go,” Braithwaite said.

Age does not matter

Statistically age does matter. Braithwaite shared multiple studies that show when one person in the marriage is still in their teenage years the divorce rate is around 90 percent, even for LDS couples. This is because the average person does not settle into adulthood until age 23, which is the recommended time to get married, according to the presenter.

That being said, Braithwaite acknowledged that the best time to marry may vary depending on the individual and it is important for young adults to be prayerful about all elements of their marriage decisions.

“Marry the right person in the right place at the right time,” said Braithwaite, quoting President Thomas S. Monson.

Housework is related to a happy marriage

Braithwaite stated that among women the need to work together in the home was one of their top indicators of love. This varies for men, who rank leisure as being their top way to feel and express affection.

Understanding how each gender typically feels love and appreciation is important for marriage because it allows for spouses to reasonably meet each other’s expectations.

Braithwaite finished his class by telling participants that the most important thing they can do to prepare for marriage is to evaluate their expectations. Even if a person is not currently in a relationship, it is important to constantly discover what their realistic expectations are for their future spouse.

The speaker also encouraged participants remember that every person has faults and will be insufficient in some way.

“The best place to be in a relationship is to be able to see all of the other person’s faults and still want to marry them anyway,” Braithwaite said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email