Divorce and marital stability can be predicted, say psychologists

Yes psychologists have refined a tool that predicts with 87 percent accuracy whether newlywed couples will remain married or divorce after several years of marriage. Researchers measure the marital bond or friendship between a couple and their global perceptions of their marriage.

The research was based on the Oral History Interview that was developed by UW psychology professor John Gottman and others. This interview is modeled after the methods of sociologist/reporter Studs Terkel and involves the use of a series of open-ended questions. The coding system focuses on the positive or negative nature of what the spouses recall and how they refer to their partner.”

The interview explores the history of a couple’s relationship, the partners’ philosophy about marriage, couple’s courtship, wedding and the good and hard times of their marriage.

In the coding system a pattern emerged in the happiest and the least happy marriages. The happiest couples are speaking almost in one voice because they are so tuned into each other’s wants and desires. These people know the value of their partner in their life. With the unhappy couples there is no symmetry. Individuals are really nasty with each other and they struggle to find positive things to say about each other or the relationship.

In a strong marital bond, you give your partner a break when times are tough. With a strong bond, a couple find ways of avoiding destructive arguments because they really like each other and appreciate the differences. With a weak bond, you don’t give respect and kindness to your partner. There is a lot more disagreement than friendship.

A lot of couples neglect the friendship in marriage and it erodes over time because of such things as career demands and having children. People need to make time to nurture their marriage, just like they take time to work out, for the health of the relationship.

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