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Predicting Your Success

How would you like to drastically improve your odds of living a long, financially successful life? It is really quite simple. Read this article to find out how to do so and achieve greater happiness.

by James O'Brien

The wages of sin are death, but the wages for being married are very high. According to authors Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher in their new book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, financial success and happiness are largely dependent on a couple's ability to create a committed family. Their findings confirm things written in the Bible over 3,000 years ago, namely, that honoring the state of marriage causes both men and women to live longer, make more money and enjoy life more.

The gift of a rose In fact, marriage is so beneficial to health it could become a public health issue. The U.S. government is about to spend $100 million per year to encourage lower-income people to marry simply because marriage is the best cure for both ill health and poverty.

During the last 25 years many studies have produced irrefutable statistics about divorce, its effects on women and children, as well as society. What is clear is that people who marry, stay married and have children within marriage are less likely to live in poverty, which benefits themselves and the rest of the country as well. They are also more likely to provide their children a better education, income and social status, in addition to living longer, more productive lives.

A few of the many conclusions researchers have come to after studying thousands of cases:

Mathematics is by nature an exact science. Two and two equals four, not four and a half or some variable in between. It isn't like horseshoes where the winner is the one closest to the stake. Because of this characteristic, math is used to create statistical samples that can be used to predict behavior and the results are something akin to an educated guess. For example, who will win the next presidential election? What product will consumers prefer? What color packaging will sell the most boxes of cereal?

If scientists can accurately predict what cereal you will purchase, where items should be placed on the store shelf to entice customers to purchase and what color will attract your attention, is it possible for them to predict your success in life? Can they make an educated guess with statistical certainty about whether you will be financially successful? What about whether you will be happy or unhappy? Surprisingly, the answer is yes! In fact, there are three factors that are well known for their mathematical probability.

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas quoted William Galston, an advisor to former President Bill Clinton, when he said, " need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty: finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. For those who follow this advice, only 8 percent are in poverty, while 79 percent of those who do not are living below the poverty scale" (Jewish World Review; article "Married With Government," Feb, 21, 2002, Cal Thomas syndicated column).

Do you see what a former presidential advisor is saying? He is saying that 92 percent of people who do these things are successful—not living in poverty. If you can do these three things, you have a 92 percent chance of financial success. The irony of this is that if you purchased a stock that you knew had a greater than 90 percent chance of success, you would probably be arrested for insider trading, yet this information about your financial success is published in newspapers everywhere. Again, what are these three simple factors that when followed provide a 92 percent chance of financial success?

Giving Mom a kissSounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Yet a huge number of teens in America reject that advice every day thereby limiting their chance of success. The government did not impose those limits, nor did the church, nor did God. The limits were imposed by teens on themselves.

Two of these factors involve the family, which is inextricably linked with success. In spite of that, each year more than two-thirds of African-American children and 25 percent of white children are born out of wedlock. How sad that so many people limit themselves and their children.

But you want more than mere financial success from life. You want to enjoy the time you spend on this earth. You want to be happy, feel needed, perform well at work and know that you made a difference on the earth. So let me suggest other factors to insure, not only financial success, but happiness as well.

Stay married to the same person for life

Love Married men and women report less depression, less anxiety and lower levels of other types of psychological distress than do those who are single, divorced or widowed. One study of the more than eighty thousand suicides in the United States between 1979 and 1981 found that overall, both widowed and divorced persons were about three times more likely to commit suicide than those who were married.

According to the latest data, 40 percent of married people rate themselves as "very happy" with their life in general, compared to just under a quarter of those who were single or who were cohabiting. Of those who cohabited, only 22 percent rated themselves as "very happy" (The Case for Marriage, p. 67).

Another large study, this time of more than 100,000 Norwegians, found that for both men and women, "the married have the highest level of subjective well-being...." (The Case for Marriage, p. 73). Contrary to the impression given by popular culture, the best opportunity to be happy, needed and satisfied with life is found in a married relationship.

Wait until marriage to live together

It is striking that people often choose to engage in behavior that would logically be understood to have emotional pitfalls. For example, people who have experienced divorce generally indicate they are unhappy. In fact, as a group they account for the unhappiest people in society. For that reason, perhaps, some people avoid marriage and opt for cohabitation.

But in so doing, they have unwittingly chosen a relationship that offers a far greater chance of emotional destruction because breaking up with a live-in lover carries many of the same emotional costs as divorce and happens far more frequently. Furthermore, the occurrence of physical abuse, infidelity and drug-related crime is significantly higher among those who cohabit rather than marry.

Among the nearly twenty thousand married men and women questioned over the last several decades as part of the General Social Survey, 66 percent of the husbands and 62 percent of the wives give their marriage the highest possible happiness rating. Almost none—2 percent of the married men and 4 percent of the married women—described their marriage as "not too happy" (The Case for Marriage, pp. 74-75).

There's even a bright side to unhappy marriages in that they rarely stay that way: 86 percent of those who rated their marriage as unhappy in the late '80s and who were still married five years later said their marriages had become happier (The Case for Marriage, pp. 148-149).

To quote The Case for Marriage, "Believing that one has a purpose in life and a reason for continued existence, that life is worth the effort because one's activities and challenges are worthy, comes from having other people depending on you, counting on you, caring about you... Marriage improves emotional well being in part by giving people a sense that their life has meaning and purpose" (Russell P.D. Burton, "Global Integrative Meaning as a Mediating Factor in the Relationship between Social Roles and Psychological Distress," Journal of Health and Social Behavior 39(1998): 201-15 as quoted in The Case for Marriage, p. 75). YU

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Keywords: marriage marriage, benefits of success and marriage marriage and success high school graduation premarital sex 


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