'We're done!' can be predicted before a couple says 'I do"--if they lack one relationship skill: the ability to resolve conflicts.
Those who know how to argue without hurting one another and resolve their areas of disagreement are almost guaranteed a long and happy marriage, according to researchers from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., reports HealthDayNews. In contrast, the No. 1 sign that couples are headed for divorce--even before they walk down the aisle--is that they make negative comments about the relationship or each other.
Led by Mari L. Clements, the research team studied 100 couples over 13 years to predict and confirm the couples' marital satisfaction or distress. When the study began in 1980, all the couples were planning their first marriage. Before the wedding, each couple took a variety of tests, including a marital adjustment test that evaluates happiness, disagreement, and confidence, a test that allows a partner to rate the effect of his or her spouse's communication, and a relationship problem inventory. During the 13-year study period, 58 couples stayed happily married, 22 remained married but were not happy, and 20 divorced.
"The ones who stayed happily married were likely to handle conflict constructively," Clements explained to HealthDayNews. "Even in the midst of a difficult issue in their relationship, they were likely to treat each other with respect. They were likely to listen to each other."
However, couples who were headed for divorce were more likely to make negative comments about the relationship or the partner, and this was plainly evident before the marriage ever took place. "Couples who ended up divorced viewed each others' communication more negatively," Clements told HealthDayNews. She said the study findings are good news because conflict resolution and communication are learned skills that can be taught to couples.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.