Make Your Marriage Last

From Will Your Marriage Last? by Aviva Patz on Psychology Today.

A study conducted by Huston, a pioneer in the psychology of relationships, revealed interesting new aspects about intimacy and marriage.

This 13-year study began in 1981, in which he followed 168 couples--drawn from marriage license records in four counties in a rural and working-class area of Pennsylvania--from their wedding day through 13 years of marriage.

Its four main findings were :

  • Huston found that many newlyweds are far from blissfully in love.

  • Couples whose marriages begin in romantic bliss are particularly divorce-prone because such intensity is too hard to maintain. Believe it or not, marriages that start out with less "Hollywood romance" usually have more promising futures.

  • spouses in lasting but lackluster marriages are not prone to divorce, as one might suspect; their marriages are less fulfilling to begin with, so there is no erosion of a Western-style romantic ideal.
  • Most importantly, it is the loss of love and affection, not the emergence of interpersonal issues, that sends couples journeying toward divorce.

Huston found that how well spouses got along as newlyweds affected their future, but the major distinguishing factor between those who divorced and those who remained married was the amount of change in the relationship over its first two years.

"The first two years are key--that's when the risk of divorce is particularly high," he says. "And the changes that take place during this time tell us a lot about where the marriage is headed."

"This ought to change the way we think about the early roots of what goes wrong in marriage," Huston said. "The dominant approach has been to work with couples to resolve conflict, but it should focus on preserving the positive feelings.

You can maintain intimacy and closeness with your partner by expressing your love frequently, communicating feelings, issues effectively and finding a project or hobby that both can enjoy together.


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