Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Twenty-one minutes to marital satisfaction: Minimal intervention can preserve marital quality over time

Date:
February 5, 2013
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Marital satisfaction -- so critical to health and happiness -- generally declines over time. A brief writing intervention that helps spouses adopt a more objective outlook on marital conflict could be the answer. New research shows that this writing intervention, implemented through just three, seven-minute writing exercises administered online, prevents couples from losing that loving feeling.

Marital satisfaction -- so critical to health and happiness -- generally declines over time. A brief writing intervention that helps spouses adopt a more objective outlook on marital conflict could be the answer.
Credit: goodluz / Fotolia

Marital satisfaction -- so critical to health and happiness -- generally declines over time. A brief writing intervention that helps spouses adopt a more objective outlook on marital conflict could be the answer.

Related Articles


New Northwestern University research shows that this writing intervention, implemented through just three, seven-minute writing exercises administered online, prevents couples from losing that loving feeling.

"I don't want it to sound like magic, but you can get pretty impressive results with minimal intervention," said Eli Finkel, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Northwestern.

The study involved 120 couples, half assigned the reappraisal intervention and the other not. Every four months for two years all spouses reported their relationship satisfaction, love, intimacy, trust, passion and commitment. They also provided a fact-based summary of the most significant disagreement they had experienced with their spouse in the preceding four months.

The reappraisal writing task asked participants to think about their most recent disagreement with their partner from the perspective of a neutral third party who wants the best for all involved.

Replicating prior research, both groups exhibited declines in marital quality over Year 1. But for the spouses who experienced the reappraisal intervention -- who completed the writing exercise three times during Year 2 -- the decline in marital satisfaction was entirely eliminated. Although couples in the two conditions fought just as frequently about equally severe topics, the intervention couples were less distressed by these fights, which helped them sustain marital satisfaction.

"Not only did this effect emerge for marital satisfaction, it also emerged for other relationship processes -- like passion and sexual desire -- that are especially vulnerable to the ravages of time," Finkel said. "And this isn't a dating sample. These effects emerged whether people were married for one month, 50 years or anywhere in between."

This finding may be especially important given that low marital quality can have serious health implications, according to Finkel.

Finkel cites data that among coronary artery bypass patients, those who experienced high marital satisfaction shortly after the surgery were three times more likely to be alive 15 years later than those who experienced low marital satisfaction.

"Marriage tends to be healthy for people, but the quality of the marriage is much more important than its mere existence," Finkel said. "Having a high-quality marriage is one of the strongest predictors of happiness and health. From that perspective, participating in a seven-minute writing exercise three times a year has to be one of the best investments married people can make."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Twenty-one minutes to marital satisfaction: Minimal intervention can preserve marital quality over time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205123702.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2013, February 5). Twenty-one minutes to marital satisfaction: Minimal intervention can preserve marital quality over time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205123702.htm
Northwestern University. "Twenty-one minutes to marital satisfaction: Minimal intervention can preserve marital quality over time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205123702.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Shows Newborn Chicks Count From Left to Right Just Like Humans

Study Shows Newborn Chicks Count From Left to Right Just Like Humans

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Researchers for the first time identified human&apos;s innate preference for associating low and high numbers with the left and right respectively in another species. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Best Mood Elevating, Feel Good Shakes & Smoothies

Best Mood Elevating, Feel Good Shakes & Smoothies

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) You can elevate your mood by having a meal in a glass. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) offers the best &apos;feel good&apos; smoothies and shakes chock full of depression-relieving ingredients...including apples, berries, lemons, cucumbers, papaya, kiwi, spinach, kale, whey protein, matcha, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poll Says Firstborn Is Responsible, Youngest Is Funnier

Poll Says Firstborn Is Responsible, Youngest Is Funnier

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) According to a poll out of the U.K., eldest siblings feel more responsible and successful than their younger siblings. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins