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What does age have to do with 'happily ever after?'

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Oxygen Media is responsible for a new show that aired September 11, 2013 and was titled "Too Young to Marry." It was a four-part series, and derived its research and comments from a survey they were responsible for, which asked 1,216 adults their attitudes toward love, marriage and divorce. The results were fascinating, candid and unexpected. I suggest you read this with your partner and actively engage in a conversation looking seriously at your own attitudes toward love, marriage and divorce. Awareness is key to improving your relationships.

Men vs. Women

Men and women have differences in how they experience love and their concept of love. The survey shows these differences below. More men (58 percent) first fall in love between the ages of 15-17, compared to only 38 percent of women. Women are more likely to know earlier on in relationships if they'll marry the person they're with after just one year (43 percent), versus only 18 percent of men.

Most men (58 percent) would pick the same person at an older age, as they would have chosen when they were younger. However, this is a stark contrast compared to women, who say they would not choose the same person (61 percent). 43 percent of men agree that you only have one true love, while only 36 percent of women agree.

Young Love vs. Mature Love

Mature love is different than young love, as you would expect. Young women (ages 18-34) tend to fall in love the fastest with 52 percent saying they fell in love in less than six months between the ages of 18-34, whereas only 44 percent of older women (ages 35-49) fell in love in under six months. Overall the study shows that wisdom comes with age and peoples' perceptions of love change as they grow up:

76 percent of older women (ages 34-49) believe in love at first sight, while younger women (ages 18-34) are less likely to believe in the phenomenon (61 percent). Only 21 percent of adults who fell in love young are currently still with their first love. However, 43 percent of adults who waited until they reached their 20's to fall head-over-heels are still with that person. 63 percent of Americans say it's necessary to learn from bad relationships before you find "the one." 52 percent of adults say they learned the difference between love and infatuation over the years. However, 61 percent of young women (ages 18-34) believe infatuation can be real love, while only 49 percent of older women (ages 35-49) say it's not.

Are There Real Generational Changes in Love & Relationships?

When counseling couples it seems that there is jadedness or cynicism among couples getting married. That can be explained perhaps by the generational differences comparing today with twenty years ago. The results of the survey agree that there are generational differences.

93 percent of adults think divorce is much more common now. Furthermore, 77 percent agree that infidelity is more common today, with 37 percent of divorced adults saying cheating was the cause of their divorce. 95 percent of women think being a single parent is more common. 87 percent of adults agree that love is more diverse now than in previous generations. 65 percent of adults think love is harder to find now than it used to be. 60 percent of adults agree that relationships used to be less complicated, but on the bright side, are generally more fulfilling now (63 percent).

Who Makes The Most Impact If We Want to Have a Happy, Healthy Marriage?

Young adults most often look to their parents for guidance on how to handle relationships, with 43 percent saying their parent's relationship had the biggest impact on their own perception of love. Half of Americans (50 percent) say their parents are not happily committed to each other anymore. 30 percent of adults say their parents' relationship has made them more committed to making their own romantic relationship work. The most important factor in a relationship for American's is shared beliefs and values (52 percent), followed by laughter (31 percent).

Given the choice of several modern couples in TV and film, Americans overwhelmingly agree (71 percent), that Cliff and Claire Huxtable from the popular NBC sitcom, "The Cosby Show," have the most ideal relationship.

We constantly mentor for our children, but what many of us forget is we are mentoring for our children's future as well as their present. If you are in an unhappy marriage, the best thing you can do is work on it. It won't help to live in the marriage if you don't improve the communication. You teach your children respect, honesty, commitment and love by the way you treat their other parent. Being aware of this and focusing on good communication and mutual respect can help your children and their families for generations to come.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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