Experiences with love in one’s family of origin (between parent and child and between parents) and in recent romantic involvements were explored to understand better people’s optimism about their success in intimate relationships. Two types of optimism were distinguished: optimism about future relationships in general, and optimism about marriage in particular. Experiences in own dating relationships predicted respondents’ optimism about future love relationships, whereas one’s parents’ relationship with each other predicted optimism about marriage. Fourth-year college students’ optimism judgments were more influenced by their own experiences in intimate relationships than were first-year students’ judgments. It appears that specific lessons from personal experience are applied selectively to judgments about our success in intimate relationships. More general beliefs about relationships, measured through attachment style, seem to be broadly applied, for attachment style was associated with both types of optimism. Relationship with parents did not directly predict either type of optimism, yet the mother-child relationship emerged as the most powerful predictor of attachment style, suggesting the fundamental importance of our earliest experiences to our generalized relationship schemas.
Source: “Optimism about Love Relationships: General vs Specific Lessons from One’s Personal Experiences” from Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Best book I’ve ever read about the subject of marriage is by Stephanie Coontz, “Marriage, a History.”
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