What personality trait should you seek in a spouse?

Conscientiousness was the trait most associated with long, happy marriages:

In this study of 125 heterosexual long-wed couples, we examined both spouses’ personality traits and relative differences in partner perceptions of personality as predictors of marital satisfaction, simultaneously for both husbands and wives. As hypothesized, each of the Big Five personality traits emerged as significantly associated with marital satisfaction though significant between-trait and between-sex differences were observed. Most notably, trait levels predicted marital satisfaction less consistently than positive reporting discrepancies (i.e., comparatively greater extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and lower neuroticism reported by spouses vis-à-vis their partners’ self-descriptions). While previous research points to a central role of neuroticism, our findings suggest that conscientiousness is the trait most broadly associated with marital satisfaction in this sample of long-wed couples. These differences between study findings may reflect change over the course of married life, the degree to which neuroticism determines divorce, overreliance on younger samples in previous marital research, or some combination of these three.

Source: “Personality traits and marital satisfaction within enduring relationships: An intra-couple discrepancy approach” from Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

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