Is there a quick and easy way to find out whether your relationship has a future?
John Gottman (the noted relationship researcher featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink“) says “I have found that nothing foretells a marriage’s future as accurately as how a couple retells their past.“
“I have found that nothing foretells a marriage’s future as accurately as how a couple retells their past,” John Gottman observes. Rewriting history begins even before a couple is aware their marriage is in danger. Gottman and his team conducted in-depth interviews of fifty-six couples, and were able to follow up on forty-seven of them three years later. At the time of the first interview, none of the couples had planned to separate, but the researchers were able to predict with 100 percent accuracy the seven couples who divorced. (Of the remaining forty couples, the researchers predicted that thirty-seven would still be together, still an astonishing accuracy rate.) During the first interview, those seven couples had already begun recasting their history, telling a despondent story with confirming details to fit. For example, they told Gottman they had married not because they were in love and couldn’t bear to be apart, but because marriage seemed “natural, the next step.” The first year, the divorced couples now recalled, was full of letdowns and disappointments. “A lot of things went wrong but I don’t remember what they were,” said one soon-to-be-ex-husband. Happy couples, however, called the same difficulties “rough spots” and saw them as challenges that they proudly had survived, with humor and affection.
A few more tidbits on relationships:
- Here’s what you should look for in a marriage partner. Best personality trait for a spouse to have? Conscientiousness.
- Your dating history predicts how optimistic you are about love. Your parents’ relationship predicts how optimistic you are about marriage.
- There’s a good amount of interesting info about infidelity. Men are more likely to have affairs when they’re older, women when they are younger. There are personality traits that can predict infidelity but it might be easier just to listen to someone’s voice.
- Divorce may have less to do with an increase in conflict and more to do with a decrease in positive feelings.
- There are three things that that have been shown to help you get over a break-up. Interesting: your brain can’t tell the difference between heartbreak and a heart attack.