What does psychology tell us behaviors predictive of successful marriage?
Many couples enter the institution of marriage with plans of abiding together until death brings separation. However, many couples are unable to live for their promises and end up breaking or formally divorcing (Parker, 2001). There are many factors that contribute to divorce and consequently many theories that help in prediction of stability in marriage. There are certain factors, which clearly indicate successful marriages from a psychological view. This essay provides a thorough evaluation of what psychology tell of behaviors predictive of successful marriage. From a psychological eye, every person has some uniqueness that makes him/her different from others. However, in spite of the uniqueness expressed, it is possible to predict relationships from a psychological view. Therefore, it is possible for people to learn from the psychology of prediction and make stronger relationships in their marriage.
Behaviors Predictive of Successful Marriage
First, it is important to understand the characteristics of a successful marriage. According to Gottman, successful couples makes more attempt to bond (“intimacy bids”), and to be more prayerful and relaxed with one another (Gottman, 1994). In turn, they respond to intimacy bids on a more positive manner. Successful couples have better understanding of each other, in the sense that, they understand each other’s dreams, fears, habits, and thoughts more acutely than unstable relationships. Successful marriage partners express more satisfaction with one another and show more admiration and respect to one another (Slonim-Nevo & Al-Krenawi, 2006). Stable relationships makes friendship a priority, in a manner that makes them look like best friends. Successful couples have a more “positive view” in their relationship, such that, when negative issues emerge in their relationship, they are ready to challenge them and move on. Successful couples do not have personal secrets; they trust each other with all manner of information and family issues (Parker, 2001). Successful marriages allow recovery conversations which are meant to heal and repair damages caused after argument (Parker, 2001). In successful marriages, couples work for each other’s dream in order to achieve shared meaning. There is no competition in marriage since each partner works towards achieving a common goal for benefit of all.
One area of marital institution that is receiving increased attention in the present days is the marital cognitions (Marin, 2014). It is vital to understand the role played by cognition in driving behavioral interaction, emotional expression, and desirable satisfaction in marriage. Majority of researchers have paid much interest in the areas of attribution and creating more focus on explanations offered by couples for certain behavior in marriage (Fortune, 2000). However, it is significant to consider behaviors predictive of successful marriage. It is possible to predict future marriage expectations from the current interactions. Behavior is one the three main domains (physiology, perception and behavior) that determine how relationships is destined to be. According to Gottman (1994), overlooking one of these three domains can result to great catastrophes in marriage. There are certain behaviors that create a conducive atmosphere for the love between couples to grow. While on the other hand, there are certain behaviors which usher venues of failure.
The main question to ask ourselves is why do marriages last? Considering the ugly statistics about divorce and the current trend on marriages, it is important to understand the factors that make marriage successful. One of the bitter facts from research is that one third of marriages fail within a span of five years (Frahm-Arp, 2012).When marriages fail, or when divorce occurs, the couples and the children are subjected great traumatizing moments. Risks such as suicide, physical illness, depression, violence, and despair are among the most common dangers that are caused by divorce (Gottman, 1994). Therefore, factors that boost relationships in marriage play a key role in building the institution of marriage. There is no single person who marries and intends to divorce eventually. However, couples are unable to overcome challenges and opt to divorce on the course of their marriage.
We are all aware of couple who fight in one minute and you find them laughing the next minute. Despite the low moments, this couple is able to solve their problems faster and move on with life. Likewise, there are couples who opt to avoid argument or discussion on certain disagreements. In addition, there are couples who talk to each other, with great concern to solve their issues and avoid hurting one another. All these couple has potential of creating lasting families and overcoming marriage challenges. However, there are important factor that hold their bond of marriage together. Couple who have time to listen to one another; even in times of adversity, they stand strong and overcome challenges (Fincham & Bradbury, 1990). It becomes difficult is one other partners has a low listening ability. It is not easy to solve problems when partners do not cooperate and listen to one another in times of conflict. Some partners decide to become dictatorial but at the end they don’t succeed in their marriage.
There are indicator which act as signal in relationship which should not be overlooked by the people intending to engage in marriage. Some couples this indicators thinking they can overcome all manner of challenges in their relationship but they end up failing. One of the most surprising finding is that 69% of the issues or problems between the couples are never solved, even on the relationships, which are considered successful (Fortune, 2000). It is quite likely for partners to continue fighting and getting annoyed of the same problem repeatedly. However, successful relationship creates mechanism of reaching a compromise and learns to address the annoyance in a healthier manner. If a partner opts to run out a relationship as a result of these problems, chances are that he/she likely to enter in many relationships with different set of unresolved problem which will constantly keep him/her on toes on events of troubles. Learning how to solve and tolerate these problems is the most appropriate remedy, which can ensure permanent relationships.
Distressed couples are more likely to recall negative experiences rather than positive ones (Celello, 2009). Unhappy couples materialize on the negative past events to make sense of present marital interactions which shapes their future. Distressed wives have a tendency of rating their husband’s neutral and negative behavior highly than the happy wives do (Celello, 2009). In other terms, they tend to magnify negative issues from their husbands and suppress positive actions done by them. The manner in which couples remember the negative event is an indicator that helps in predicting the stability of marriage in future. If couples are asked to tell the story of their relationship, from the time they met to the present days, a person can be able to gauge the perception form the couples based on major aspects that feature in their stories. It is easier to know couple who have greater record of the negative issues about their partner. Once you determine the couple with negative mentality, you can predict the marriages that are bound to last and become succesful and marriages that are bound to fail in future (Gau, 2011). Negative perception creates bitterness in a relationship and it becomes difficult for healing to take place. When bitterness matures, it amounts to conflicts, which might lead to divorce.
One sensitive area that determines the stability of a marriage institution is couples communication. Communication helps in clearing uncertainties and eroding wrong judgment that hinders the flow of information within the family set up. Partners who are secretive end up in failed relationships as a result of conflict that arises from poor communication. There are couples who have secret relationships and bank accounts that are not known by their partners. Such behaviors are indications of lack of trust in the family, which later cause major conflict and probably resulting to divorce. Couples with withdrawal behavior, such that they ignore or run form important discussion are destined to part their ways in future (Cox, 2013). It is important in the event of conflict for every partner to allow a room for dialogue in order to resolve issues amicable. However, the behavior of avoiding such dialogues is dangerous and can lead to unsuccessful marriage. Plasticity and openness are other key factors that determine the success in marriage. Majority of conservative and resistant couple ends up in failed marriages (Gau, 2011). Couples who face different challenges with open mind ends up having successful marriages, Openness strengthens the love bond because it builds trust and understanding in marriage.
As proposed by Gottman (1994), for a successful marriage a honest balance must exist, whereby, good moments of pleasure, humor, passion, support, generosity and kindness must overweigh the bad moments of disgust, complaint, anger, criticism, coldness and defensiveness. Every person likes to be complimented and appreciated. These boosts morale and enthusiasm in tackle challenging assignments. It is important for the couples to cultivate a culture of complementing and appreciating their partners whenever they do something for them. In most case, couple undergoes sacrificing moments in the bid to make their relationships worth and better. Couples should not assume their partners efforts, instead, they should endeavor to support and express concern. Established families have great tolerance to conflict and negative issue that arise on day-to-day basis (Marin, 2014).
From Gottmans (1994) view, you can predict how fast a marriage will deteriorate by considering couple’s rate of jumping into argument or anger. The ability to process reasonable information deteriorates when a person’s heartbeat is high as a result of anger (Fincham & Bradbury, 1990). There are people who have less tolerance to mistake and easily through tantrum over slightest inconvenience. The behavior of jumping into conclusion without paying attention to the other person contribution wears out the bond of marriage (Gau, 2011). At the ends, a person may realize that he/she has caused more harm than good in supporting their relationship. It is important for partners to develop a listening culture whenever a problem arises and avoid jumping into unreasonable conclusions.
There are several arguments from different psychologists on behaviors predictive of successful marriage. It is possible predict successful marriages based on the couples interaction and behavior. Successful marriage partners express more satisfaction with one another and show more high regard and respect to one another. Successful marriages allow provide a room for conversations, which are meant to heal and repair damages caused after argument. The behavior of jumping into conclusion without paying attention to the other person contribution wears out the bond of marriage. Partners who present secretive behavior end up in failed relationships as a result of conflict that arises from poor management of conflicts. Couples with withdrawal behavior, such that they ignore or run form vital discussion are ordained to have failed marriages. There, all these factors are important to consider when intending to engage in marriage institutions.
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Cox, F. D. (2013). Human intimacy: Marriage, the family, and its meaning. S.l.: Wadsworth.
Fincham, F. D., & Bradbury, T. N. (1990). The Psychology of marriage: Basic issues and applications. New York: Guilford Press.
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