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Analyzing the Newlywed Game

November 05, 1987|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

The First Year of Marriage: What To Expect, What To Accept, and What You Can Change by Miriam Arond and Samuel L. Pauker M.D. (Warner Books: $17.95)

Marriage, perhaps most imperiled of social institutions, with its depressingly low survival rate, is given another chance here.

Arond and Pauker--respectively a bridal-magazine editor and psychiatrist--interlace statistics, anecdotal research and experts' observations in a big (400 pages), lively, eminently practical book, concluding each section with "workshop" suggestions.

They queried newlyweds and "75 longer-married people," in addition to teen-agers, seniors, divorced couples and those who have married interreligiously and interracially. Separate chapters analyze responses to couples' premarital experience, their weddings, the honeymoon and "period of adjustment."

Though the majority of couples had known each other sexually before marriage, had vacationed or lived together and even co-owned property, surprises abound. Sexual happiness seems unrelated to premarital sex, and a number of respondents were shocked by personal character traits and behavior that went far beyond the way a spouse squeezed toothpaste, neglected to fold the paper or handled money.

However, it's not the similarity of religious, educational or cultural background that ultimately makes or breaks a marriage--though these are important factors in initially attracting couples--but rather a comfortable accommodation, a similar sense of humor or way of looking at the world. Marriages work, the authors conclude, because people suit each other's psychological needs.

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