Can the success of a marriage be determined in 15 minutes?
Whether you’re in a short-term or long-term committed relationship. anxiety can — and likely will — pop up at some point. Whether it stems from lack of trust; fear of abandonment; questioning your compatibility; or worrying about unreciprocated feelings, most people experience some form of unease about the future of their partnership.
Do you want to know if your current relationship will be successful? Look no further. John Gottman, a psychological researcher has spent 40 years studying relationships and now believes that he can determine the success of a marriage in 15 minutes. Here’s how:
A 1988 study asked 130 newlywed couples to complete questionnaires regarding their relationship and discuss disagreements in their relationship for 15 minutes. Their interactions were recorded, and emotions were evaluated with Gottman’s Specific Affect Coding System categorising tone of voice, facial expressions; and positive, neutral, or negative words.
The study found that couples who began with lower overall negativity and were able to decrease negativity over the course of the study, were more likely to stay together long-term. 17 couples eventually divorced and researchers noted that their conversations began with a “harsh startup” where individuals displayed more negative emotions and fewer positive effects.
The study identified four types of negativity: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These ‘The Four Horsemen’ can wreak havoc in a relationship. These findings were published in book titled: “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” and along with six factors thought to predict divorce with 83% accuracy.
Psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson studied 14 married couples over 14 years. Before the study ended 20 of these couples had divorced. A comparison of the long-lasting and divorced couples found that whilst arguments are often seen as negative, they actually be used positively to “stabilise a rocking boat”. They suggest talking with your partner immediately and openly about an argument or disagreement.
It was also observed that couples who divorced had frequent arguments where they cut each other off. Comments made during the conversation were insensitive and unsupportive. On the other hand, long-lasting couples approached an argument with an open mind and each partner took responsibility for their own actions.
Whether or not you believe a couple’s success can be predicted through psychology, Gottman’s research suggests that conflict within a relationship can actually be beneficial for the growth of the couple. Effective communication allows individuals to reconcile their differences, leading to a happy, healthy, and long-lasting marriage.