As some of you may recall, over the past two columns of this 3-part series, I have been talking about the way many people live their lives and interact with others. I referred to my thinking as the Head-Heart-Hip-Gut-Butt approach to life. It is intended to be somewhat serious and simultaneously tongue in cheek. Some of us may go through life making decisions about themselves or others using their head (rational thought), their heart (sentimental, emotional feelings), shooting from the hip (making decisions without thinking or empathy for what those decisions may mean for themselves or others), their gut (if the action hits them in the gut in an uncomfortable way and takes them out of their comfort zone, they steer clear of it), or they fly by the seat of their pants (their butt), in matters that should be taken more seriously. I will refer to this phenomenon as the H-H-H-G-B rule for the remainder of this series of columns. Today’s column is about unions, cohabitations and marriage.

As a forensic, I am sometimes asked to evaluate physical abuse of one or both partners in a relationship. It’s rare, but some couples even go to the extreme, ending their relationship on a deadly note with one murdering the other!

Crimes of passion as a defense by someone accused of murdering their significant other are not uncommon. But my experience has been that juries don’t typically forgive murder, no matter how compelling the defendant’s story is. 

As you can well imagine, even if the relationship doesn’t end in death, not all couple relationships end “happily ever after.” Why is that?

What is one of the most likely reasons couples end their relationships?

I don’t have room in today’s column to discuss all of the reasons why relationships fail, but one reason that’s near the top is a lack of trust.

Rachel Pace, in an article in the 2021 Divorce Magazine, said, “when thinking about reasons for divorce, many of us often think of infidelity, growing apart, and arguments over money matters as the main culprit. But the truth is, trust plays a large part in how successful your marriage will be.”

Lying to a significant other (I’ll talk more extensively about lying in another column) can be too much for some relationships to bear. Lies between a couple undermine the foundation of the relationship and it’s a common experience that the person who is told the lie begins to doubt their choice of a partner. If there ever was a honeymoon phase, when someone starts to lie, you can kiss the relationship goodbye!

Where does the term honeymoon come from?

Various sources like the Merriam Webster dictionary, the online blog Mental Floss and dictionary dot com, all have different origins as to the etymology of honeymoon. Collectively, it appears that the phrase is a derivation from the Old English term “hony moone.”

Hony is a reference to honey. The Mental Floss blog goes on to say the term “moone” refers to an “indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure or the fleeting amount of time that the sweetness (between the couple) would last.”

Samuel Johnson is said to have first written about the concept of a honeymoon in 1542 when he said “The first month after marriage when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure; originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing mutual affection of newly married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane…”

In some cultures, the couple doesn’t get to decide who they’re going to marry, because their spouse is decided for them. Based on religious reasons and an attempt to guarantee a blood line, couples are matched, and a dowry is exchanged.

Ever wonder if arranged marriages last longer than marriages that have been a result of love and affection? What’s your guess?

According to the blog post Divorce, “the last time arranged marriage divorce rates were published in 2012, the divorce rate was six percent, and according to a 2013 survey, 74 percent of Indians aged 18 to 35 preferred arranged marriages to choosing their own partner.”

Considering the United States divorce rate is between 40 and 50 percent, maybe the east Indians have the secret sauce for keeping couples together!

As humans, rather than practicing the H-H-H-G-B rule of hooking up, we might learn something about unions, and cohabitations from the non-human mammals with whom we share our planet.

In a January 2023 article in Scientific American by Jack Tamisiea, found “one of the most important factors impacting a mammal’s life span may be the company it keeps. A team of researchers recently analyzed the longevities and lifestyles of nearly 1,000 species of mammals, ranging from aardvarks to zebras. The team discovered that group-living mammals such as ring-tailed lemurs and elephants generally outlive solitary species such as tigers and chipmunks.”

In the same Scientific American article, evolutionary biologist Xuming Zhou says “that group-living mammals tend to be less susceptible to predation or starvation than mammals that are on their own. Additionally, instead of rushing to reproductive age and pumping out droves of offspring, social animals tend to have a slower pace of life. They produce fewer young, investing more time and energy to nurture social bonds that can yield survival benefits in the future. Together, these benefits likely outweigh the drawbacks of living in large groups, such as competition over food and mates.”

Zhou determined “strong and stable social bonds formed among group members have the power to enhance longevity.”

Do humans who cohabitate live longer like the mammals mentioned in Scientific American?

In their January 2023 Forbes article, Libby Richards, Melissa Franks, and Rosie Shrout give a two thumbs up for living together resulting in greater longevity.  “Marriage also provides partners with a sense of belonging, more opportunities for social engagement and reduced feelings of loneliness. This social integration, or the extent to which people participate in social relationships and activities, can greatly influence health from reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease to lowering one’s risk of death or suicide.”

What are your thoughts? Questions? Comments?   

Thanks for reading the column. Please send me an email at Be well. Stay safe. See you here next month.