Predictors of Long Term Marital Success

Predictors of Long Term Marital Success

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With so many marriages ending in divorce, researchers have started investigating what makes some marriages withstand the test of time? Research has shown that couples who divorce seem to have several things in common. It’s important to review the factors that seem to make marriages fail as well as the factors that seem to predict long term marital success.

John Gottman is a psychologist who has conducted research about marriage success. He’s written many books and articles on the subject of marriage. During one of his research studies, he analyzed video tapes of various couples’ interactions with one another. He was able to use this data to compile critical factors that seemed to predict the likelihood a couple would divorce or remain together. His predictions for divorce were 91% accurate.

The first predictor of marital dissatisfaction was that the couple spent too much time criticizing one another. This may include one partner reacting critically toward the other or both partners criticizing each other equally. These couples tend to be less supportive of one another in general.

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The second predictor was that one or both partners reacted defensively when they received criticism. Instead of being able to hear what their partner had to say and focus on personal growth, they were angered and upset by their partner’s criticism. This often led to arguments and disagreements without the problems becoming solved.

The third predictor was that one or more partner showed contempt for the other one. This is often the result of longstanding anger and resentment. When problems go unresolved, frustration can turn to resentment. Eventually this results in feelings of contempt for one another. When people feel contempt, it decreases their ability to see their partner’s positive traits.

The fourth predictor was that one or both people were unwilling to talk about a particular problem. This prevents the problem from being addressed and solved. The other person is often left feeling frustrated. Sometimes the problems are addressed in a passive-aggressive or manipulative manner since the problem isn’t able to be discussed in an open manner.

Couples who are less likely to divorce are better able to solve problems and deal with issues better. Successful couples can deal with problems by openly discussing their options and addressing their concerns in a straightforward manner. They are able to find helpful strategies to deal with a problem when their partner doesn’t want to address an issue.

Couples who stayed married tend to be more supportive of each other. This means they compliment their partners a lot more than they criticize them. When they do criticize one another, they are able to respond appropriately. They can tolerate negative feedback and take their partner’s feelings into consideration.

Successful couples are more accepting of their partner’s faults. They agree to overlook some small problems. They can agree to disagree at times and have a more realistic expectation of their partner and can accept that their partner may not be willing to change.

So what can couples who want to increase their chances of having a successful marriage do? The first thing is to recognize that long-term success in a marriage takes a lot of work. Don’t just expect that your marriage will be easy all the time.

Also, take a look at how you and your spouse address problems. If you have become caught in a cycle of attacking and defending, it is imperative to make changes. These negative interactions can slowly cause the breakdown of a marriage. A change is needed to help increase your positive interactions.

If you and your partner tend to be avoiding problems, it is also important to take action. According to Gottman’s research, ignoring and avoiding problems is just as detrimental as attacking your partner. If you are guilty of avoiding problems, learn skills to address them. Talk to your partner. If your partner won’t talk to you about a problem, express your concerns about not talking about it.

The good news is that marriage counseling can be helpful. It can teach you how to increase your positive interactions in the relationship. It can also teach you skills to solve problems effectively and strategies to increase your ability to communicate about problems. If you feel like your marriage may be in trouble, seek counseling to help you increase the likelihood of long-term marriage success.

Gottman, J.M. (1999) Seven principals for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press.

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