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6 Common Habits for Happy Marriage

Week of Mar 14, 2014

International Survey

After interviewing 10,000 couples in 110 countries around the world, bestselling author of "Happy Wives Club" Fawn Weaver has identified six practices that happy partners have in common. Some you might not expect. 

6. Put Marriage Before Children
 
5. If the Bond is Solid, Sex will Follow
 
4. Spirituality Can Be a Stabilizer
 
3. Rituals Enhance Romance
 
2. Divorce is Not an Option
 
1. Aretha Had it Right
 

Couples, the Internet, and Social Media

Week of Feb 21, 2014

New Pew Research Center Survey

How American couples use digital technology to manage life, logistics, and emotional intimacy within their relationships 
 
The Internet, cell phones, and social media have become key actors in the lives of many American couples. Technology is a source of support and communication as well as tension, and couples say it has both good and bad impacts on their relationships, a new Pew Research Center survey says. Read More

Watch a movie together and talk about it.

Week of Feb 04, 2014

Univ of Rochester Study

A University of Rochester study finds that watching and discussing movies about relationships is as effective in lowering divorce rates as other, more intensive early marriage counseling programs. Read More 

Want to Stop Arguing and Change Spouse's Behavior? Start With Mirror

Week of Jan 07, 2014

Article by Elizabeth Bernstein (Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2014)

Your best chance of transforming someone else—and the dynamic in your relationship—is to demonstrate your willingness to alter your own actions, experts say.
 

Why Rate Your Marriage? A Numerical Score Can Help Couples Talk About Problems

Week of Dec 18, 2013

Therapists Say They Learn a Lot When Couples Commit to Numbers in Areas Like Trust, Teamwork, Physical Intimacy

How would you rate your relationship?
 
Researchers often rely on rate-your-relationship questionnaires in studies of why some marriages last while others crumble. Therapists say couples can benefit from occasionally using these tools to step back and get a clinical view of behaviors, healthy and unhealthy, in their relationship. The rating process can help start a discussion, clarify strengths and weaknesses and, hopefully, lead to marital growth. Read the rest of this Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein
 

Five Predictors of Relationship Success

Week of Nov 14, 2013

(and Five Not So Good Predictors)

Based on the results of the meta-analysis, here are five good markers of relationship success:
 
  1. Commitment, or one’s long-term orientation and attachment to one’s partner is a very good predictor. It’s not surprising that those intending to stay in their relationships are less likely to break up. 
  2. Positive illusions – We’ve written about it before, but viewing your relationship as better than it really is can be beneficial for its success.
  3. IOS – The “Inclusion of Other in the Self” Scale, developed by Dr. Art Aron and colleagues,4 is a really ingenious way of assessing relationship closeness using a series of overlapping circles (i.e., Venn diagrams).
  4. Love is especially interesting because of the diversity in how love is defined across different studies. It’s conceptualized and measured in many different ways, but what the various definitions of love have in common is their utility in predicting relationship stability.
  5. Network support – Although this technically wasn’t in the Top 5, I want to highlight it because it was a surprisingly good predictor of break-up. Having friends and family approve of and support relationships is associated with their long-term success. As a social psychologist, I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that external influences are important in relationships, but I admittedly didn’t anticipate the strength of this finding. More
 
Dr. Benjamin Le - Science of Relationships 
Dr. Le's research focuses on commitment, including the factors associated with commitment and its role in promoting maintenance. He has published on the topics of breakup, geographic separation, infidelity, social networks, cognition, and need fulfillment and emotions in relationships.

Online Dating & Relationships

Week of Oct 24, 2013

Pew Internet & Life Project report

One in ten Americans have used an online dating site or mobile dating app; 66% of these online daters have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site or app, and 23% have met a spouse or long term partner through these sites. Public attitudes toward online dating have become more positive in recent years, but many users also report negative experiences.
 
Pew Internet & Life Project 

Researcher finds correlation between financial arguments, decreased relationship satisfaction

Week of Oct 16, 2013

Study published in Family Relations, Vol 61, Issue 4

"Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce," said Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning. "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money -- for both men and women." Read more.

This study using longitudinal data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households is published in Family Relations Volumne 61, Issue 4.

 

The Key to Happy Relationships? It’s Not All About Communication

Week of Sep 23, 2013

An Internet-based study involving 2,201 participants

In an Internet-based study involving 2,201 participants referred by couples counsellors, scientists decided to test, head to head, seven “relationship competencies” . In addition to communication and conflict resolution, the researchers tested for sex or romance, stress management, life skills, knowledge of partners and self-management to see which ones were the best predictors of relationship satisfaction. More

Sleepless nights can worsen lovers' fights

Week of Jul 15, 2013

UC Berkeley Study

Relationship problems can keep us awake at night. But new research from UC Berkeley suggests that sleepless nights also can worsen lovers’ fights.
 
UC Berkeley psychologists Amie Gordon and Serena Chen have found that people are much more likely to lash out at their romantic partners over relationship conflicts after a bad night’s sleep. “Couples who fight more are less happy and less healthy,” said Gordon, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study published online in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.
 

Happily married means a healthier ever after

Week of Jul 08, 2013

Research out of Brigham Young Univeristy suggests happy marriages live less “in sickness” but enjoy more of life “in health.”

New Brigham Young University research finds that people in happy marriages live less “in sickness” but enjoy more of life “in health.” In a 20-year longitudinal study tracking health and marriage quality, BYU family life researcher Rick Miller found that as the quality of marriage holds up over the years, physical health holds up too. “There’s evidence from previous research that marital conflict leads to poor health,” Miller said. “But this study also shows happy marriages have a preventative component that keeps you in good health over the years.” Read more.

Age and Conflict

Week of Jul 02, 2013

Does age affect how married couples handle conflict?

Researchers at the Relationships, Emotion and Health Lab at San Fransico State University followed 127 middle-aged and older long-term married couples across 13 years, checking in to see how they communicated about conflicts from housework to finances.

The researchers found that while most aspects of demand-withdraw communication remained steady over time, both husbands and wives "increased their tendency to demonstrate avoidance during conflict," reports Sarah Holley director of the Lab. That is, when faced with an area of disagreement, both spouses were more likely to do things such as change the subject or divert attention from the conflict. Avoidance is generally thought to be damaging to relationships as it gets in the way of conflict resolution. For younger couples, who may be grappling with newer issues, this may be particularly true. But for older couples, who have had decades to voice their disagreements, avoidance may be a way to move the conversation away from "toxic" areas and toward more neutral or pleasant topics, the researchers suggest.

Read more at Science Daily or a prepublished version of the study at the Relationships, Emotion, and Health Lab at San Francisco State University.

The Perils of Giving Advice

Week of Jun 25, 2013

Elizabeth Bernstein article on advice giving in marital relationships

Bernstein describes the results of a series of six studies that followed 100 couples for the first seven years of marriage. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that both husbands and wives feel lower marital satisfaction when they are given too much advice from a spouse, as opposed to too little. And—surprise!—unsolicited advice is the most damaging kind. Read more.

Follow this link for the abstract of the study published in the Journal of Family Psychology: Validity and utility of a multidimensional model of received support in intimate relationships.Barry, Robin A.; Bunde, Mali; Brock, Rebecca L.; Lawrence, Erika Journal of Family Psychology, Vol 23(1), Feb 2009, 48-57.

Meeting online leads to happier, more enduring marriages

Week of Jun 04, 2013

University of Chicago Study

More than a third of marriages between 2005 and 2012 began online, according to new research at the University of Chicago, which also found that online couples have happier, longer marriages.
 
Although the study did not determine why relationships that started online were more successful, the reasons may include the strong motivations of online daters, the availability of advance screening and the sheer volume of opportunities online. Read more. 

More Young Couples Commit — To Homeownership Before Marriage

Week of Apr 26, 2013

Time Magazine | Business & Money By Brad Tuttle

First comes love, then comes … mortgage? A new study indicates that young couples in committed relationships have been far more likely than older generations to purchase homes before getting married.

Read more

Happily Married Couples Consider Themselves Healthier

Week of Mar 19, 2013

University of Missouri study

Research shows that married people have better mental and physical health than their unmarried peers and are less likely to develop chronic conditions than their widowed or divorced counterparts reports Science Daily. A University of Missouri expert says that people who have happy marriages are more likely to rate their health as better as they age; aging adults whose physical health is declining could especially benefit from improving their marriages.

When One Partner Is Overweight

Week of Jan 28, 2013

Resolving Conflict in the Relationship Takes Two

Mixed-weight couples, where one partner is overweight and the other one isn't, have more relationship conflict, including arguments and feelings of anger and resentfulness, than same-weight couples, according to a study by researchers at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Wash., and the University of Arizona, in Tucson, published last month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Full text PDF available here.

Read Elizabeth Bernstein's Wall Street Journal article here.

 

 

That Loving Feeling Takes a Lot of Work

Week of Jan 16, 2013

1/14/2013 New York Times Personal Health Blog

In her new book, “The Myths of Happiness,” Dr. Lyubomirsky describes a slew of research-tested actions and words that can do wonders to keep love alive. Read More.

Does wedded bliss have a limited shelf life?

Week of Dec 03, 2012

American and European researchers tracked 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over the course of 15 years.

The findings were clear: newlyweds enjoy a big happiness boost that lasts, on average, for just two years. Then the special joy wears off and they are back where they started, at least in terms of happiness. The findings, from a 2003 study, have been confirmed by several recent studies.

The realization that your marriage no longer supplies the charge it formerly did is then an invitation: eschew predictability in favor of discovery, novelty and opportunities for unpredictable pleasure. “A relationship,” Woody Allen proclaimed in his film “Annie Hall,” “is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” A marriage is likely to change shape multiple times over the course of its lifetime; it must be continually rebuilt if it is to thrive.

The good news is that taking the long view on marriage and putting in the hard work has calculable benefits. Research shows that marital happiness reaches one of its highest peaks during the period after offspring have moved out of the family home.

Read more at Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside's OpEd piece in the New York Times.

Do Men and Women Show Love Differently in Marriage?

Week of Aug 30, 2012

Findings indicate that men and women show their love in more nuanced ways than cultural stereotypes suggest.

In Western societies, women are considered more adept than men at expressing love in romantic relationships. Although scholars have argued that this view of love gives short shrift to men’s ways of showing love the widely embraced premise that men and women “love differently” has rarely been examined empirically. Using data collected at four time points over 13 years of marriage, the authors examined whether love is associated with different behaviors for husbands and wives. Multilevel analyses revealed that, counter to theoretical expectations, both genders were equally likely to show love through affection. But whereas wives expressed love by enacting fewer negative or antagonistic behaviors, husbands showed love by initiating sex, sharing leisure activities, and doing household work together with their wives. Overall, the findings indicate that men and women show their love in more nuanced ways than cultural stereotypes suggest (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin).  Read More

Most US young adults expect marriage to last a lifetime

Week of Aug 23, 2012

In an age of short-lived celebrity marriages, widespread divorce, babies being born outside of marriage, and the ever-popular “hooking up,” young people are remarkably traditional about their expectations for love, marriage and children—for both themselves and society at large, according to a new Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.

The poll, directed by Clark psychology professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, reports that 86 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed nationwide expect to have a marriage that will last a lifetime. Read More.

Should you share a bed?

Week of Aug 16, 2012

Couples who sleep apart are healthier, have happier marriages and strong sex lives says a well-regarded sleep researcher at the University of Surrey.

Couples who sleep apart are healthier, have happier marriages and strong sex lives says a well-regarded sleep researcher at the University of Surrey. Read more.

The Financial Trifecta

Week of Aug 10, 2012

The Financial Trifecta

Charlie Michaels and Mike Brown, authors of "Mastering Marriage," suggest that couples need to agree on the following three issues: 1) spending philosophy-what merits a credit card or is "cash only;" 2) Long term financial goals-spouses need to be on the same page about where their financial future is headed; and 3) spending priorities-determining what comes first. Couples who can come to a consensus on these three issues are well on their way. Read More.

“Trust is like Jell-O”

Week of May 14, 2012

People enact their own brands of trust in relationships that may be distinct from the attitudes about trust that they espouse in public arenas

People enact their own brands of trust in relationships that may be distinct from the attitudes about trust that they espouse in public arenas

Ultimately, the goal of promoting marriage among the poor and near-poor may be better served by urging them to take their time forming partnerships and to carefully examine how suitable their prospective partners are for lasting intimate relationships. By doing so, they could make better judgments about trustworthiness and choose partners who were indeed worthy candidates for marriage. The problem, in other words, is not just getting women to start trusting men; rather, the problem also is getting them to stop trusting men in ways that are not conducive to stable partnerships and to start using trust in ways that are more likely to lead to lasting, healthy unions.

Read more of this study by Linda M. Burton, Ph.D., James B. Duke Professor of Sociology, Duke University, and Andrew J. Cherlin, Ph.D., Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University.

When new parents bicker, kids suffer later

Week of Apr 18, 2012

The level of aggression between partners around the time a baby is born affects how the mother will parent three years later, research shows.

The level of aggression between partners around the time a baby is born affects how the mother will parent three years later, research shows.

“We have long been aware that high levels of family conflict can have a negative effect on children’s development, but most people tend to think that this doesn’t apply to babies,” says Philip A. Fisher, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and scientist at the independent, non-profit Oregon Social Learning Center.
 
“In fact, we are now finding that this notion of toxic stress in families applies to babies as well. We are finding that people should mind their relationships with their spouses, not just with their babies.”

Follow this link for press release and access to the study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Eye of the Beholder

Week of Mar 19, 2012

Men like to know when their wife or girlfriend is happy while women really want the man in their life to know when they are upset, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

The study involved a diverse sample of couples and found that men's and women's perceptions of their significant other's empathy, and their abilities to tell when the other is happy or upset, are linked to relationship satisfaction in distinctive ways, according to the article published online in the Journal of Family Psychology. Read a summary at Science Daily.

Younger couples more stressed about divorce

Week of Mar 12, 2012

Divorce at a younger age hurts people’s health more than divorce later in life, researchers have found. Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu says the findings, which appear in the journal Social Science & Medicine, suggest older people have more coping skills to deal with the stress of divorce.

Divorce at a younger age hurts people’s health more than divorce later in life, researchers have found. Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu says the findings, which appear in the journal Social Science & Medicine, suggest older people have more coping skills to deal with the stress of divorce.

“It’s clear to me that we need more social and family support for the younger divorced groups,” says Liu, assistant professor of sociology. “This could include divorce counseling to help people handle the stress, or offering martial therapy or prevention programs to maintain marital satisfaction.” Read more.
 

In Sickness and In Health

Week of Mar 06, 2012

Study documents the importance of supportive spouses in coping with work-related stress

A new study conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business, examines the role of support in households where daily stress is common to both spouses. Read more.

Childbearing Outside of Marriage

Week of Feb 22, 2012

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

According to a Child Trends Research Brief having children outside of marriage—nonmarital childbearing—has been on the rise across several decades in the United States. In 2009, 41 percent of all births (about 1.7 million) occurred outside of marriage, compared with 28 percent of all births in 1990 and just 11 percent of all births in 1970. Preliminary data suggest that this percentage has remained stable in 2010. There are several reasons to be concerned about the high level of nonmarital childbearing. Couples who have children outside of marriage are younger, less healthy, and less educated than are married couples who have children. Children born outside of marriage tend to grow up with limited financial resources; to have less stability in their lives because their parents are more likely to split up and form new unions; and to have cognitive and behavioral problems, such as aggression and depression.Indeed, concerns about the consequences of nonmarital childbearing helped motivate the major reform of welfare that occurred in 1996, and continue to motivate the development of federally funded pregnancy prevention programs among teenagers and marriage promotion programs among adults. Read More.

How Military Deployment Can Impact the Children of Soldiers

Week of Feb 13, 2012

When parents return from military deployment it not only affects how they cope, but it also impacts their relationship with their children. One study hopes to reduce these unique challenges. Providing many tools including role playing to learn effective parenting techniques, there are workshops established to help soldiers reduce conflict and deal with the stress they and their children may be under after a long deployment.

Read More