Marital researchers can predict with an 80-85% accuracy which couples will divorce based on self-reporting information about themselves and their partner. These scientists have looked at the following predictive scales: realistic expectations, communication, conflict resolution, personality, and religious orientation. In contrast to couples that divorce, happily married couples score strongly on these five scales.
REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Realistic expectations are closely linked with acceptance. Acceptance is probably the single greatest factor in predicting marital satisfaction and stability.
There are two parts to “realistic expectations. " First a couple must be aware of and flexible about the natural changes that occur as the relationship and family go through normal transitions and maturation. It is impossible to think about, feel about and experience one's partner the same way during courtship, as the first year of living together, as after 30 years of marriage. Families, like children, go through distinct stages of development. Each stage has its own challenges and goals. Secondly, it is essential to marital happiness that each partner tolerate the other's peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. “He may never be the best communicator but it is ok, " may be the wife's attitude. “She may never be well organized and tidy, but I can live with it, " may be the husband's attitude.
COMMUNICATION: Dialogue about one's feelings, dreams, fears and ideas are what builds bridges between people. It is essential that husbands and wives share their inner lives with each other. In order for this to happen there must be a feeling of safety to support self-disclosure which comes from respectful and validating communication.
Research has shown that one negative interaction such as anger or criticism can nullify 5 to 20 positive interactions. For the most part, daily communication is what makes or breaks a relationship. The challenge is to produce the greatest number of positive interactions to the fewest negative interactions. Scientists observing couples in action have seen how just a few negative comments can spoil an entire day or week.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Being married will at times involve conflict. Two people-two minds-two temperaments. Successful conflict resolution requires three criteria. One, keep the dialogue respectful, no name calling or humiliating etc. Two, keep it contained; the divisive words should only last a few minutes and the feelings no more than an hour or two. Three, don't change topics; stay focussed exclusively on the issue at hand and resist dragging in every perceived failure or imperfection about your partner or relationship.
PERSONALITY: It is important that overall you like your partner's personality. Unless it was a “shotgun wedding" liking your partner’s personality is probably true for most people. If you didn't like your partner's “personality, " why would you have married them? During courtship there was a strong attraction. Even after many years of marriage that attraction it is still there, either actualized or hidden in potential. Years of misunderstanding and conflict can build within a person enormous resentment and this accumulated emotion can actually change a person's perception of their partner, leaving one unable to accurately see what he or she is actually like.
RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION: Spiritual and cultural differences place major obstacles between couples. Religious orientation is the context in which the couple builds their lives and their family and defines their values. Being on different “wave length" can undermine many otherwise appropriate and reasonable efforts. It may be compared to trying to build a house on sand.
Couples that overall score high on the above scales, although not necessarily perfect in all areas, share happy and meaningful lives together. If you feel your relationship has not reached its full potential in some of these key areas you can read relationship books or consult with relationship experts and apply sincere effort and surely significant improvements can be made.
Abe Kass, M. A. , R. S. W. , R. M. F. T. , is the publisher of Wisdom Scientific self-help educational programs. Abe is also a registered Social Worker, registered Marriage and Family Therapist, certified hypnotherapist and award winning educator. He concluded, after many years of clinical practice and research, that practical solutions requiring a focussed effort of no more than a few minutes a day for very specific personal and relationship problem were critically needed. Wisdom Scientific publishing house has been created to fill this need. For more information or a free e-bulletin , visit http://www.WisdomScientific.com