Unfortunately, evidence shows that a percentage of couples who are happily married as newlyweds are still getting divorced after several years of marriage. Why are some couples able to create a long-lasting, meaningful marriage while others seem to lose satisfaction and contentment over time?
In a longitudinal study between happy newlyweds that eventually divorced after 5 to 10 years of marriage and happy couples that stayed married, the researchers looked for as many possible differences between the two groups to possibly account for why some couples become less satisfied with their marriages over time. In many respects, the two groups were strikingly similar; both groups appeared committed to their marriages and the ideals of marriage, and there were no differences in whether they had cohabitated before marriage or whether they had children. The divorced group was younger, which might indicate less emotional maturity in handling the needs and wants of a spouse.
What appeared to be crucial above all were the deleterious effects of negative marital communication patterns on the couple. Although there appeared to be very little difference in the positive communication styles of all the couples, those that divorced years later had notable differences in their negative communication patterns. Couples who eventually divorced exhibited more anger and contempt for their spouse, and were more likely to blame and invalidate the feelings of their partner. Those that divorced spoke excessively of what they would like to change about their partner, discouraged the expression of feelings, and insisted that their spouse resolve the difficult situation on their own.
It appears that the difference between satisfied couples and young couples that end up divorcing is most related to a lack of support for each other and contemptuous negativity that eventually poisons a meaningful relationship.
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