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8 Ideas for Protecting Your Marriage from Divorce

Week of Mar 25, 2015

Scott Stanley, March 12, 2015 Family Studies Blog

What can couples do to avoid divorce? Hundreds of books, articles, workshops, and lectures have tackled that question. If there were a surefire way to “divorce-proof” a marriage, we would have found it by now. It doesn’t exist. But there are some things married couples can do to minimize their risk of divorce. In a recent piece, I gave advice to singles and dating couples about how to lower their future odds of marital breakdown. Now, I’m focusing on those already married. Read more.

8 facts on love, marriage, and childbearing in America

Week of Feb 14, 2015

Brookings Blog Post

Many Americans are getting married later in life, if at all, while still having children outside of marriage. Learn more from these 8 facts on love, marriage, and childbearing in America. Read more.

Commitment and lasting love

Week of Jan 09, 2015

Scott Stanley on why commitment is so important in lasting love

Dr. Stanley is a research professor who conducts studies on marriage and romantic relationships. Follow him at his blog: Sliding vs Deciding

How To Craft An Empirically-Supported Marriage

Week of Dec 09, 2014

Scientific America Blog post

Ceremony readings from the wedding of two social psychologists. Read more.

Are Gadget-Free Bedrooms the Secret to a Happy Relationship?

Week of Dec 05, 2014

Nick Bilton | NYTIMES

Are Gadget-Free Bedrooms the Secret to a Happy Relationship?
Nick Bilton | NYTIMES
"A study published last month in The International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, for example, found that when one person in a relationship is using some forms of technology more than the other, it makes the second person feel ignored and insecure. Or as your therapist may say, it brings up a whole lot of abandonment issues"
Read more at the New York Times

Masters of Love

Week of Nov 11, 2014

The Atlantic - summary of John Gottman research on lasting relationships

Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
The Masters and Disasters of Love and Marriage

In Relationships, Be Deliberate

Week of Aug 21, 2014

National Marriage Project Report

The data show that couples who slid through their relationship transitions ultimately had poorer marital quality than those who made intentional decisions about major milestones. How couples make choices matters.
Read more (link To The Atlantic article)

Silent treatment speaks volumes about a relationship

Week of Aug 04, 2014

Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

Silent treatment speaks volumes about a relationship
Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY
Although researchers say the cold shoulder is the most common way people deal with marital conflict, an analysis of 74 studies, based on more than 14,000 participants, shows that when one partner withdraws in silence or shuts down emotionally because of perceived demands by the other, the harm is both emotional and physical. Read more.

How and Why to Ban the Silent Treatment from Your Relationship

Week of Jun 17, 2014

Elizabeth Bernstein | The Wall Street Journal

It's part of the demand-withdraw pattern, and both partners have to take responsibility to change it 
A meta-analysis of 74 studies encompassing more than 14,000 participants, published in the March 2014 Communication Monographs, found the demand-withdraw pattern to be one of the most damaging types of relationship conflict and one of the hardest patterns to break. It often is a predictor of divorce.

Letting yourself be a little crazy

Week of May 23, 2014

— crazy for your partner — pays off

How to live happily ever after, according to science
by Eric Barker The Week
"As Daniel Jones, author of Love Illuminated, explains: we spend our youth asking "How do I find love?" and midlife asking "How do I get it back?"
Anyone in a relationship or who plans on being in one needs to know how to keep love alive over the long term. But how do you learn the secret to this? Everyone is happy to explain "how they met" but few give the details on "how they stayed together."
So let's look at what science has to say." . . .


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.