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Predicting Marital Happiness and Stability from Newlywed Interactions

John M. Gottman, James Coan, Sybil Carrere and Catherine Swanson
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 5-22
DOI: 10.2307/353438
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353438
Page Count: 18
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Predicting Marital Happiness and Stability from Newlywed Interactions
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Abstract

A study with 130 newlywed couples was designed to explore marital interaction processes that are predictive of divorce or marital stability, processes that further discriminate between happily and unhappily married stable couples. We explore seven types of process models: (a) anger as a dangerous emotion, (b) active listening, (c) negative affect reciprocity, (d) negative start-up by the wife, (e) de-escalation, (f) positive affect models, and (g) physiological soothing of the male. Support was not found for the models of anger as a dangerous emotion, active listening, or negative affect reciprocity. Support was found for models of the husband's rejecting his wife's influence, negative start-up by the wife, a lack of de-escalation of low intensity negative wife affect by the husband, or a lack of de-escalation of high intensity husband negative affect by the wife, and a lack of physiological soothing of the male, all predicting divorce. Support was found for a contingent positive affect model and for balance models (i.e., ratio models) of positive-to-negative affect predicting satisfaction among stable couples. Divorce and stability were predicted with 83% accuracy and satisfaction with 80% accuracy.

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