Ladies and gentlemen, they did it!
Thousands of years of interpersonal drudgery and hardship have led mankind to its crowning scientific achievement: an artificial intelligence capable of providing pre-emptive assurance of relational success and failure.
Mankind will never again be plagued by the inconvenience of relationships that require work. Only perfect matches from here on out.
Kidding, kidding. All we have here is another academic attempt to reduce human relationship down to a series of variables that, when combined, may or may not determine compatibility.
According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, self-report data analysis has revealed the factors most predictive of whether a romantic relationship will succeed or fail.
The study’s authors, scientific minds spanning numerous disciplines and continents, reportedly fed artificial intelligence the raw data collected from 11,196 couples across 43 previous survey experiments and found substantial commonalities between them with regard to each couple’s overall happiness in relation to ten specific factors.
Those factors — the first five individual and the other five communal — included life satisfaction, negative affect, depression, attachment avoidance, attachment anxiety, perceived partner commitment, appreciation, sexual satisfaction, perceived partner satisfaction and conflict.
Now, bear in mind the study’s authors hedge substantially in their written summary, admitting the predictors were imperfect — unable to determine relational longevity or even be combined for a more holistic analysis of what makes for the strongest relationship.
Even discounting this, the findings remain deeply unsurprising, with couples reporting greater relational success and overall happiness when both partners were, for instance, satisfied with life outside their relationship or feeling appreciated by their significant other.
As Christian minister Brian Bowman wrote Tuesday for UpsidedownMarriage.com, “Of course a romantic relationship is affected by factors like life satisfaction, negative affect, depression, attachment avoidance, attachment anxiety.”
“One or both of the people in a marriage may suffer from depression for any number of reasons, and that will put serious strain on the relationship. If ‘life satisfaction’ is low it makes sense that the relationship will be difficult,” he wrote.
This, however, is largely beside the point.
Simply put, these indicators constitute no more than the highs and lows of human existence and relationship.
And the notion that those challenges guarantee, or even predict, relational doom is almost entirely exclusive to the modern culture.
It is an idea far from conservatism and anything but biblical.
In fact, as Bowman noted, “The only phrase in the Bible by written by Moses, spoken by Jesus, and cited by Paul is a plan for relationship that has stood the test of millennia. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
So, what does that word mean?
Well, right out of Meriam-Webster, it means to “adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly.”
Take note: Neither the Bible nor the dictionary provides a preface or addendum here. To cleave is to cling loyally to another, regardless of circumstance.
“I think one of our major problems is that people plan for weddings but not marriages,” Bowman told The Western Journal in a statement. “We have 1st class weddings and 2nd rate marriages.”
“I believe this with all my heart. It sounds like just a quip, but I have helped many couples think it through,” Bowman said.
“They have spent no time planning what to do when there are problems. That’s why they say, ‘The marriage isn’t working,’ when in fact it’s working perfectly. It’s keeping you where you don’t want to be right now,” he added.
“I like to say that marriage is screws, bolts, nails and glue. It is intended to hold things together that would not naturally stay together.”
A powerful picture — particularly considering beloved figures like President Ronald Reagan long revered family as the “fundamental unit of American life.”
Ironic then that, as our culture continues to de-emphasize marriage and family, allowing absentee fatherhood and divorce to claim the mainstream, our politics and social dialogue continue to fall apart.
Sure, it’s possible the glue just isn’t so sticky these days — but, for some reason, I doubt it.
Chances are we’re just using the wrong glue: fleeting “happiness” over hard work, moving in over marriage and politicians over faithful families.
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