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  • Every year in the United States alone,

  • 2,077,000 couples

  • make a legal and spiritual decision

  • to spend the rest of their lives together ...

  • (Laughter)

  • and not to have sex with anyone else,

  • ever.

  • He buys a ring, she buys a dress.

  • They go shopping

  • for all sorts of things.

  • She takes him to Arthur Murray

  • for ballroom dancing lessons.

  • And the big day comes.

  • And they'll stand before God and family

  • and some guy her dad once did business with,

  • and they'll vow that nothing,

  • not abject poverty,

  • not life-threatening illness,

  • not complete and utter misery

  • will ever put the tiniest damper

  • on their eternal love and devotion.

  • (Laughter)

  • These optimistic young bastards

  • promise to honor and cherish each other

  • through hot flashes

  • and mid-life crises

  • and a cumulative 50-lb. weight gain,

  • until that far-off day

  • when one of them is finally able

  • to rest in peace.

  • You know, because they can't hear the snoring anymore.

  • And then they'll get stupid drunk

  • and smash cake in each others' faces and do the "Macarena,"

  • and we'll be there

  • showering them with towels and toasters

  • and drinking their free booze

  • and throwing birdseed at them

  • every single time --

  • even though we know,

  • statistically,

  • half of them will be divorced within a decade.

  • (Laughter)

  • Of course, the other half won't, right?

  • They'll keep forgetting anniversaries

  • and arguing about where to spend holidays

  • and debating which way

  • the toilet paper

  • should come off of the roll.

  • And some of them

  • will even still be enjoying each others' company

  • when neither of them can chew solid food anymore.

  • And researchers want to know why.

  • I mean, look, it doesn't take a double-blind, placebo-controlled study

  • to figure out what makes a marriage not work.

  • Disrespect, boredom,

  • too much time on Facebook,

  • having sex with other people.

  • But you can have the exact opposite of all of those things --

  • respect, excitement,

  • a broken Internet connection,

  • mind-numbing monogamy --

  • and the thing still can go to hell in a hand basket.

  • So what's going on when it doesn't?

  • What do the folks who make it

  • all the way to side-by-side burial plots

  • have in common?

  • What are they doing right?

  • What can we learn from them?

  • And if you're still happily sleeping solo,

  • why should you stop what you're doing

  • and make it your life's work

  • to find that one special person

  • that you can annoy for the rest of your life?

  • Well researchers spend billions of your tax dollars

  • trying to figure that out.

  • They stalk blissful couples

  • and they study their every move and mannerism.

  • And they try to pinpoint what it is

  • that sets them apart

  • from their miserable neighbors and friends.

  • And it turns out,

  • the success stories

  • share a few similarities,

  • actually, beyond they don't have sex with other people.

  • For instance, in the happiest marriages,

  • the wife is thinner and better looking than the husband.

  • (Laughter)

  • Obvious, right.

  • It's obvious that this leads to marital bliss

  • because, women, we care a great deal

  • about being thin and good looking,

  • whereas men mostly care about sex ...

  • ideally with women

  • who are thinner and better looking than they are.

  • The beauty of this research though

  • is that no one is suggesting

  • that women have to be thin to be happy;

  • we just have to be thinner than our partners.

  • So instead of all that laborious

  • dieting and exercising,

  • we just need to wait for them to get fat,

  • maybe bake a few pies.

  • This is good information to have,

  • and it's not that complicated.

  • Research also suggests

  • that the happiest couples

  • are the ones that focus on the positives.

  • For example, the happy wife.

  • Instead of pointing out her husband's growing gut

  • or suggesting he go for a run,

  • she might say,

  • "Wow, honey, thank you for going out of your way

  • to make me relatively thinner."

  • These are couples who can find good in any situation.

  • "Yeah, it was devastating

  • when we lost everything in that fire,

  • but it's kind of nice sleeping out here under the stars,

  • and it's a good thing you've got all that body fat

  • to keep us warm."

  • One of my favorite studies found

  • that the more willing a husband is to do house work,

  • the more attractive his wife will find him.

  • Because we needed a study to tell us this.

  • But here's what's going on here.

  • The more attractive she finds him, the more sex they have;

  • the more sex they have, the nicer he is to her;

  • the nicer he is to her,

  • the less she nags him about leaving wet towels on the bed --

  • and ultimately, they live happily ever after.

  • In other words, men, you might want to pick it up a notch

  • in the domestic department.

  • Here's an interesting one.

  • One study found

  • that people who smile in childhood photographs

  • are less likely to get a divorce.

  • This is an actual study,

  • and let me clarify.

  • The researchers were not looking

  • at documented self-reports of childhood happiness

  • or even studying old journals.

  • The data were based entirely

  • on whether people looked happy

  • in these early pictures.

  • Now I don't know how old all of you are,

  • but when I was a kid,

  • your parents took pictures with a special kind of camera

  • that held something called film,

  • and, by God, film was expensive.

  • They didn't take 300 shots of you

  • in that rapid-fire digital video mode

  • and then pick out the nicest, smileyest one

  • for the Christmas card.

  • Oh no.

  • They dressed you up, they lined you up,

  • and you smiled for the fucking camera like they told you to

  • or you could kiss your birthday party goodbye.

  • But still, I have a huge pile

  • of fake happy childhood pictures

  • and I'm glad they make me less likely than some people

  • to get a divorce.

  • So what else can you do

  • to safeguard your marriage?

  • Do not win an Oscar for best actress.

  • (Laughter)

  • I'm serious.

  • Bettie Davis, Joan Crawford, Hallie Berry, Hillary Swank,

  • Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon,

  • all of them single

  • soon after taking home that statue.

  • They actually call it the Oscar curse.

  • It is the marriage kiss of death

  • and something that should be avoided.

  • And it's not just successfully starring in films

  • that's dangerous.

  • It turns out, merely watching a romantic comedy

  • causes relationship satisfaction to plummet.

  • (Laughter)

  • Apparently, the bitter realization

  • that maybe it could happen to us,

  • but it obviously hasn't and it probably never will,

  • makes our lives seem unbearably grim

  • in comparison.

  • And theoretically,

  • I suppose if we opt for a film where someone gets brutally murdered

  • or dies in a fiery car crash,

  • we are more likely to walk out of that theater

  • feeling like we've got it pretty good.

  • Drinking alcohol, it seems,

  • is bad for your marriage.

  • Yeah.

  • I can't tell you anymore about that one

  • because I stopped reading it at the headline.

  • But here's a scary one:

  • Divorce is contagious.

  • That's right -- when you have a close couple friend split up,

  • it increases your chances of getting a divorce

  • by 75 percent.

  • Now I have to say, I don't get this one at all.

  • My husband and I

  • have watched quite a few friends divide their assets

  • and then struggle

  • with being our age and single

  • in an age of sexting and Viagra

  • and eHarmony.

  • And I'm thinking they've done more for my marriage

  • than a lifetime of therapy ever could.

  • So now you may be wondering,

  • why does anyone get married ever?

  • Well the U.S. federal government

  • counts more than a thousand legal benefits

  • to being someone's spouse --

  • a list that includes visitation rights in jail,

  • but hopefully you'll never need that one.

  • But beyond the profound federal perks,

  • married people make more money.

  • We're healthier,

  • physically and emotionally.

  • We produce happier, more stable

  • and more successful kids.

  • We have more sex

  • than our supposedly swinging single friends --

  • believe it or not.

  • We even live longer,

  • which is a pretty compelling argument

  • for marrying someone you like a lot

  • in the first place.

  • Now if you're not currently experiencing

  • the joy of the joint tax return,

  • I can't tell you how to find a chore-loving person

  • of the approximately ideal size and attractiveness

  • who prefers horror movies and doesn't have a lot of friends

  • hovering on the brink of divorce,

  • but I can only encourage you to try,

  • because the benefits, as I've pointed out,

  • are significant.

  • The bottom line is, whether you're in it or you're searching for it,

  • I believe marriage is an institution

  • worth pursuing and protecting.

  • So I hope you'll use the information I've given you today

  • to weigh your personal strengths

  • against your own risk factors.

  • For instance, in my marriage,

  • I'd say I'm doing okay.

  • One the one hand,

  • I have a husband who's annoyingly lean

  • and incredibly handsome.

  • So I'm obviously going to need fatten him up.

  • And like I said, we have those divorced friends

  • who may secretly or subconsciously

  • be trying to break us up.

  • So we have to keep an eye on that.

  • And we do like a cocktail or two.

  • On the other hand,

  • I have the fake happy picture thing.

  • And also, my husband does a lot around the house,

  • and would happily never see

  • another romantic comedy