Want a better marriage? Treat it like a start-up.

When it comes to understanding what makes a marriage successful, social pundits are always coming up with new ways of defining the secret sauce to a lifelong happy partnership. Enter Arthur C. Brooks, a happiness researcher from Harvard who recently put pen to paper for The Atlantic to introduce a rather intriguing theory.

He suggests some marriages are more successful than others because the partners treat their union like a brand new endeavour, rather than a combining of two separate entities. Basically, a start-up instead of a merger.

Now if you're like me and the business world is about as foreign as a Northern Icelandic dialect, then you might also be scratching your head as to what parallels could be drawn between corporate-speak and marriage. To start off with let’s get clear on what start-ups and mergers are and how they’re used as analogies in relation to marriage. 

A start-up is a new product that is being brought to the market and a merger is when two established entities join together to form one business.

So are we expected to whip out a blazer and fire off some spreadsheets to perfect our marriages? Not exactly.

Watch: Glennon Doyle on marriage and her book, 'Untamed'. Post continues below.

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In Brooks' article, he suggests that an approach to marriage can be split into different categories – either start-up or merger. A start-up marriage implies that both partners are a little green, they'll make some mistakes and there will be a lot of learnings. On the other side, a merger marriage sees two mature partners come together and have difficulties integrating their well-established lives to form a harmonious bond.

According to research from the US Institute for Family Studies, people who get married in the 'sweet spot' between ages 28 and 32 are statistically less likely to get divorced within the first five years. But if you tie the knot outside of that age bracket, it doesn't mean your partnership is doomed! You can sigh a breath of relief... thanks to this new theory, because it basically wants to remind you that age is just a number. 

The idea here is that you approach your marriage with a start-up mentality rather than a merger mindset, even if you don't fit that 'sweet spot' age category.

Here are the fundamentals of a start-up approach to marriage:

1. Go all in.

Plenty of studies have shown that the biggest cause of divorce comes from money issues. It truly does make the world go round and it can be a major thorn in the side of an otherwise healthy relationship. Brooks advises that the best way to navigate the monetary side of a marriage is to pool funds, much in the way a start-up business would do. This means both parties will have vested interest in saving and spending as a unified team.


2. Do away with ‘equal’ thinking.

We often hear that a marriage should be an equal, 50-50 split between partners – both in terms of time and effort that each spouse puts in. But just like a merger, an equal split of roles and responsibilities isn't necessarily achievable in day-to-day life, as people have different strengths and weaknesses. Instead of holding your marriage to a perfectly even split, each partner should give 100 percent of their energy each and every day and reap the rewards of devoting your whole self to the relationship.

3. Risky business.

While prenups are less common in Australia, Brooks' sentiment of ‘taking a risk’ rather than using contractual agreements to safeguard your marriage holds true. Social pundits have said that a prenup can shine an obvious light on the monetary differences between each person in the marriage and that can be – unsurprisingly – a very unromantic elephant in the room. Go all in and forget the paperwork, says Brooks.

So there you have it: whether you’re in the so-called sweet spot for marriage or not, it seems approaching your life as wedded folk might just be maded that bit better if you take at it like an exciting new startup venture. Who knows? It could just be the ticket to a long-lasting partnership – no spreadsheets required.

Feature Image: Getty.

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