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【翻译】这桩婚姻能持久吗?

(2006-07-07 17:46:33)
分类: 英语天地

〖原文附后〗
题目:Will This Marriage Last
作者:PO BRONSON AND ASHLEY MERRYMAN
刊物:美国《时代周刊》
时间:2006年6月30日 星期五

这是送给新婚夫妇的婚姻指南,众多的因素能够让离婚的可能降低到20%,或者使其上升到70%……

  季再次来临了,你被邀请参加婚礼,穿上最漂亮的礼服,买来精美包装的礼物,并带上乐观的微笑。

  通常,在婚礼上来宾最热衷的事儿之一就是寻找蛛丝马迹,用以揣测这对新婚夫妇是否会长久,是否会成为下一对离婚的对象。你可以将自己的想法藏于心底,但这种猜测几乎是不可避免的。你肯定会有自己的预感和判断。如果这对夫妇婚前已经生活在一起,“试婚”达半年以上,你可能会对这个婚礼有更多信心。你也许并不会因为新娘曾经在一个破碎的家庭里长大而担心,但你肯定会为新郎曾经结过婚而担心。如果新郎已经几年没有步入过教堂,而新娘坚持要在教堂里结婚,那么这时你将难以确定如何预测。

  事实上,以上这些因素有些确实会起作用,而有些则不会。每个婚礼都会受到这种规则的困扰。“一半的婚姻以离婚告终”,但它并非象掷硬币猜正反面那样随机。在婚礼过程中,就可以看到哪些因素会让离婚的可能性上升到70%还是降低到20%。

  首先应该明了的是,离婚率是基本稳定的。一对普通的夫妇能够有57%的机会迎来他们的第15个结婚周年纪念日。如果能够持续15年,就很可能坚持到“白头偕老”。

  让我们把婚姻中的危险因素分为三组。第一组是夫妇的关系。第二组是家庭经济问题。第三组是他们的家族历史。

  对于夫妇而言,他们的年龄会对婚姻状况产生影响。如果他们是刚刚走出高中的学生,一般不会有好的结果(这个不足为奇)。如果25岁以上才结婚,情况会得到非常明显的改善——但这并不意味着结婚年龄越大越好。如果35岁才结婚,一点也不25岁时结婚强。

  现在,大多数人在结婚前都已经同居。关键问题是,他们是不是完全抱着结婚的目的而同居?还是仅仅因为他总呆在她那儿而顺其自然地发展为同居。你也许认为未婚同居是“试验阶段”,它有助于防止失败的婚姻,因为互相许下誓言前还有机会选择结束。但结果却正好相反,经过“试婚”而最终结合的夫妇离婚率更高。为什么这种婚前“筛选”不能发挥作用呢?原因很可能是,他们最初不想马上结婚而选择“试婚”的理由最终仍会成为婚后一个长期存在的问题。

  如果新婚夫妇还邀请你共进晚餐,你将有机会获取更有说服力的线索。新郎会很积极地帮助做家务吗,比如洗涮或者做饭?如果他这样做了,这将是预示婚姻能够持久的最重要的证据之一。当他们站在教堂里的时候,我们通常不会去考虑这个问题,但两年之内妻子肯定会考虑这个问题,如果她的丈夫总是把所有的家务都扔给她的话。一个愿意做家务的男人通常也会愿意共同抚养孩子——这对于夫妇而言是另一件很有益的事。

  如果是再婚,无论是新娘还是新郎,他们离婚的可能性就会相对大些。再婚的家庭将面对更多复杂的问题:处理与前夫(妻)的关系以及抚养前夫(妻)所生子女。但这类风险通常被夸大了,对于中产阶层的二婚夫妇而言,离婚的可能性只比初婚的高3%。另外,信仰宗教并不能让他们的婚姻更加幸福,但却意味着他们可能更加努力不让关系破裂。有项对比数据可供参考,在主要的宗教中,天主教徒的离婚率最低,而新教徒的离婚率最高。但就对婚姻的影响而言,真正重要的并不是他们信仰哪种宗教,而是他们实践自己信仰和诺言的投入程度。如果新娘坚持要在教堂结婚,而新郎实际上很想在海滩举行婚礼,这才是真正值得担心的。

  再来谈谈金钱。金钱对于稳定婚姻关系有很大的帮助,但往往相对数量更少的金钱却能够让婚姻走的更远。一对夫妇如果家庭收入达到5万美元,他们的婚姻持续15年的可能性会上升到68%。大体上讲,家庭宽裕的夫妇离婚的原因主要是个性冲突,而较为贫穷的夫妇离婚的原因主要是酗酒、虐待和经济问题。(但无论是富有还是贫穷,不贞行为是导致婚姻失败比较常见的原因。)

  如果听说新娘和新郎已经在开始考虑买房了,这应该是个好兆头。有房的夫妇的婚姻生活未必比租房的夫妇幸福,但房子成为他们生活中永恒的东西,能够让夫妇更好地融合在一起。房子同时也是离婚的一道屏障,因为如果离婚,房子的分割也是件麻烦事儿。

  现在看看真正有趣的问题——他们的家庭。密切关注一下新娘和新郎的父母,他们离过婚吗?如果是,那么他们的孩子们面临离婚危险的可能性会更高。影响是很明显的,这个因素可能会使离婚的可能性升高14%。但在应用这一消极影响的规则之前需要知道更多的信息。在父母离婚前,他们的冲突很激烈、总是被孩子们看到吗?或者是躲在紧闭的房间里安静地解决?令人惊讶的是,后一种情况下孩子们离婚的可能性更大。因为,他们在一个矛盾重重却看似平静的家庭成长,父母一旦突然宣布离婚,就会产生更加恶劣的影响,导致这些孩子对人们之间的关系持不信任态度。

  观察一下新娘与她的父亲在走廊一起并肩走过时的情形,他们的表情很严肃、很紧张吗?如果是,情况就比较糟。与父亲关系不融洽的新娘今后与丈夫离婚的可能性更大些。对于新郎却并非如此,他们与父亲的关系好坏并不会对离婚与否产生大的影响。

  现在看来,这些危险因素似乎是无法抵挡的。更糟糕的是,年轻的夫妇们自己好像对此也无能为力。他们无法逆转父母的离婚,他们无法一夜之间解决家庭经济困难。他们也许会去教堂祷告,但上帝不会和他们交谈,同样无济于事。

  但所有这些并非不可改变。实际上,夫妇们可以做许多事情去改善婚姻状况。比如,等到25岁才结婚,或者年轻的新郎学会洗刷厕所、烤鸡肉,也可以试着去换一下尿布——这些都没有想像中那么难。

  如果新娘与父亲的关系不融洽,也并非注定没有好的婚姻。她们中的许多人善于将自己与新郎的家庭紧密结合在一起,也能够有效地抵消这种负面影响。

  夫妇们自身对婚姻持久的期望是一个非常重要的因素。那些参加过婚前培训或接受过婚前咨询的夫妇,能够将离婚的风险降低近三分之一。我们不知道,是不是培训班真正改变了夫妇?或者是因为这些夫妇自身更加现实、能够了解危险所在?(这就是为什么他们能够明智的选择上婚前培训班的原因。)但婚前的咨询服务肯定是新婚夫妇们应该收到的最好的结婚礼物。

  朋友们,相信在这个夏天你参加的婚礼,能够持久下去的可能性是大于掷硬币猜正反面的机率的。婚礼中有些东西是值得细细品味的,干完杯中的香槟,听着乐队奏响的库尔邦组合的祝福曲,看着女傧相流下感动的泪水……

Wedding season is here again. Your attendance has been requested. Dust off your finest, buy a well-wrapped gift, and slap on an optimistic smile.
One of the great bystander sports at weddings is looking for clues that forecast whether this couple will last, or whether they'll just become another divorce statistic. You'll keep these thoughts to yourself, but the mental guessing is nearly impossible to turn off. You've got your hunches. You would have more confidence in the wedding if this couple had moved in together for six months to test-drive this relationship. You might not worry that she was raised in a broken home, but you do worry that he was married before. And the groom hasn't darkened a church door in years, but the bride insisted they get married in a chapel — you're not sure what to make of that.
The truth is that some of these factors actually matter, and some do not. Every wedding is haunted by that axiom, "Half of all marriages end in divorce." But it's not a random coin flip. At the time of a couple's wedding, there are factors already present that can raise the odds of divorce to as high as 70%, or lower it to nearly 20%.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the divorce rate has stabilized. An average couple now has a 57% chance of seeing their 15th wedding anniversary. If they make it that far, most will reach "til death do us part."
Let's group the risk factors into three. The first grouping is the couple's relationship. The second grouping is financial issues. The third grouping is their family history.
Regarding the couple, their age matters. If they are just out of high school, that's not so good. (No surprise.) The odds improve dramatically if they're at least 25 — but don't assume the older the better. Marrying at age 35 is not any better than age 25.
Most couples today cohabit before they marry. The crucial issue here is whether they moved in together with the full intention to get married, or whether they moved in together just because it was the logical thing to do, since he was always at her place anyway. You might think that living together is a sort of "trial period" that helps prevent bad marriages, since they can break up before taking an oath to each other. But the odds suggest the opposite; they divorce more. Why doesn't this filter work? Very likely, whatever it was that made them not want to get married in the first place ended up becoming a problem long-term.
If the couple has ever invited you over for dinner, you've got a good clue there. Does the groom substantially help with the housework, cleaning, and cooking? If he does, this may be one of the most important predictors of all. We don't usually think about this when they are standing at the altar, but the bride will definitely be thinking about it in two years if her husband has left all the chores to her. A man who does housework is also going to be involved in childrearing — another major benefit to the couple.
If this is a second marriage, for either bride or groom, their odds of divorce are somewhat higher. Remarried families have more complex issues to confront: ex's to deal with, and stepchildren to raise. But this risk is often overstated; a middle-class second marriage has only 3% more risk than a first marriage. Being religious doesn't make a couple happier with their marriage, but it does mean they might try a little harder to stick it out. FYI, among the major religions, Catholics get divorced the least. Protestants the most. But what is really important here is not what religion they are, but how devoted they are to practicing their faith. You're right to worry if the bride insisted they married in the chapel, when the groom really wanted a wedding at the beach.
Let's talk money. Money helps, a lot — but a relatively small amount of money goes a long way. If this couple will earn a modest $50,000 as a family, their odds of seeing their 15th anniversary jump to 68%. By and large, well-off couples divorce over personality conflicts while poorer couples divorce over alcoholism, physical abuse, and money problems. (Infidelity is a frequent deal-breaker, rich or poor.)
If you've heard that the bride and groom have been hunting for a house to buy, that's a good sign. Homeowners aren't happier in marriage than renters, but there's a permanence to their life — a connection to a community. The house is also a roadblock to divorce, being hard to divide.
Now for the really fun stuff — their families. Pay close attention to the parents of the bride and groom. Are they divorced? If so, it's been known for some time that their children are at higher risk of divorce when they marry. It's quite significant — it raises their odds of divorce by 14%. But you need to know a little more before applying this handicap. Before the parents divorced, was their conflict loud and visible to the children? Or was their conflict kept hushed behind closed doors? Surprisingly, it's the children of the latter who are getting divorced. Growing up in a home where they thought everything was fine — until their parents suddenly announced their divorce — leads those children not to trust their relationships.
Watch the bride and her father as they walk down the aisle. Are they tense with each other? If so, that's bad. Women with poor relationships to their fathers are more likely to get divorced from their husband. That's not the case for the groom — the quality of his relationship to his father does not impact his odds.
By now, all these risk factors probably seem overwhelming. Even worse, it seems that there's very little an engaged couple can do to help themselves. They can't reverse their parent's divorce, and they can't elevate their financial status overnight. They might be able to attend church, but if God hasn't spoken to them, faking it doesn't help.
But it's not all a fait accompli. There are many things a couple can do to improve their odds. Wait until they're 25, for instance. And a young man can learn to wash a toilet and roast a chicken. He can also learn to change a diaper — it's not that hard.
If the bride has a poor relationship with her father, her fate's not sealed either. Among those women, those who've created a strong bond with the groom's family counteract their risk.
The couple's expectations are a huge factor in the longevity of their marriage. Couple who have attended premarital classes or counseling cut their odds of divorce by almost a third. We don't know if the classes actually change the couples, or if those couples are already realistic and savvy to the dangers (which is why they were smart enough to take the class). But premarital counseling might be the best wedding gift any newlyweds can receive.
Bottom line, the weddings you attend this summer are likely to have much better odds of lasting than a coin flip. That's something to relish, when the champagne has run dry and the band covers Kool & The Gang and one of the bridesmaids has run off in tears.

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