How to quickly and easily improve your marriage:

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Eric Barker  -  
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Close relationships are central to health and happiness. Most research has focused on eliminating problems such as conflict and tension, issues that counselors are likely to encounter. However, some cross-sectional surveys of the general public suggest that another problem faced in long-term marriages may be simple boredom, the lack of excitement; laboratory and shortterm field experiments suggest a causal effect of reducing boredom (by shared participation in exciting activities) on relationship quality (e.g., Aron et al., 2000). The experimental and other research (e.g., Graham, 2008) demonstrating this effect is based on the self-expansion model (Aron & Aron, 1986), which indicates that the excitement often experienced during relationship formation arises from rapid development of closeness, the rate of which inevitably declines over time. However, if partners experience excitement from other sources (such as novel and challenging activities) in a shared context, this shared experience can reignite relationship passion by associating the excitement with the relationship.

Source: “Marital Boredom Now Predicts Less Satisfaction 9 Years Later” from Psychological Science, Vol. 20, #5

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Does a female breadwinner raise risk of divorce?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Yes, and substantially so:

Using German panel data from 1984 to 2007, we analyze the impact of labor division between husband and wife on the risk of divorce. Gary Becker’s theory of marriage predicts that specialization in domestic and market work, respectively, reduces the risk of separation. Traditionally, the breadwinner role is assigned to the husband, however, female labor force participation and their wages have risen substantially. Our results suggest that there are gender-specific differences, e.g. female breadwinner-couples have a substantially higher risk of divorce than male breadwinner-couples. In contrast, the equal division does not significantly alter the probability of separation.

Source: “Effect of Labor Division between Wife and Husband on the Risk of Divorce: Evidence from German Data” from IZA Discussion Paper No. 4515, October 2009

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Is marriage a good idea for handsome men?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Maybe not:

Physical appearance plays a crucial role in shaping new relationships, but does it continue to affect established relationships, such as marriage? In the current study, the authors examined how observer ratings of each spouse’s facial attractiveness and the difference between those ratings were associated with (a) observations of social support behavior and (b) reports of marital satisfaction. In contrast to the robust and almost universally positive effects of levels of attractiveness on new relationships, the only association between levels of attractiveness and the outcomes of these marriages was that attractive husbands were less satisfied. Further, in contrast to the importance of matched attractiveness to new relationships, similarity in attractiveness was unrelated to spouses’ satisfaction and behavior. Instead, the relative difference between partners’ levels of attractiveness appeared to be most important in predicting marital behavior, such that both spouses behaved more positively in relationships in which wives were more attractive than their husbands, but they behaved more negatively in relationships in which husbands were more attractive than their wives. These results highlight the importance of dyadic examinations of the effects of spouses’ qualities on their marriages.

Source: “Beyond initial attraction: Physical attractiveness in newlywed marriage.” from Journal of Family Psychology

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How do our parents affect what we look for in a mate?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Seems our parents’ age has effects on what we’re attracted to.

via ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Mate preferences are shaped by infant experience of parental characteristics in a wide variety of species. Similar processes in humans may lead to physical similarity between parents and mates, yet this possibility has received little attention. The age of parents is one salient physical characteristic that offspring may attend to. The current study used computer-graphic faces to examine how preferences for age in faces were influenced by parental age. We found that women born to ‘old’ parents (over 30) were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with ‘young’ parents (under 30). For men, preferences for female faces were influenced by their mother’s age and not their father’s age, but only for long-term relationships. These data indicate that judgements of facial attractiveness in humans reflect the learning of parental characteristics.