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Last updated 20/05/2012
Marriage Traits from Jeffry Larson
Most marriage problems can be traced back to the pre-marital relationship. It is important that couples take a comprehensive inventory of their relationship and address important issues before they marry. The studies show, the longer a couple has been together and dated before marriage, the more successful a marriage will be. Larson
Here is Larson's view of cohabitation before marriage and his marriage preparation brochure.
Here a list of articles on marriage that Larson authored or co-authored.
I retrieved this article below from the now defunct emotional feelings site on 04/07/06.
"After 20 years of his own research & years of work done by others, Larson has a few answers. His recently published book, "Should We Stay Together?", offers prospective couples some scientifically proven methods for evaluating their relationships & improving their chances for long-term success.
Larson shared some of those ideas with conference participants at a national marriage & family conference held recently at BYU. The conference theme was Revitalizing the Institution of Marriage of the 21st Century.'
As we enter the new century, we've learned a lot about what goes into a successful marriage, says Larson. "60 years of research suggests that relationships develop at a number of levels & that certain criteria can help predict success & failure."
Out of that he has developed what he calls "The Marriage Triangle", which highlights the individual traits, the couple traits & the family background & context that can help or hinder a relationship.
Factors that predict marital dissatisfaction
These are the 3 sides of the triangle:
1. High neurotic traits
6. Vulnerability to stress
8. Dysfunctional beliefs. (If you enter marriage convinced that you live on different planets, or that you'll never understand each other, he says, you probably won't.)
2. Short acquaintanceship
3. Premarital sex (especially a lot of experience with many different partners)
4. Premarital pregnancy
6. Poor communication & conflict-resolution skills
1. Younger age
2. Unhealthy family-of-origin experiences
3. Parental divorce or chronic marital conflict
4. Parental or friends' disapproval
5. Pressure to marry
6. Little education or career preparation
Some of these are things couples have little control over. "You can't change your family background. But you can do things to change the effects that has on you; you can work through issues.
In some cases, it's not so much the events as how you think about them."
The couple traits are probably the easiest to work on, he says. "But most things can be changed. Severe cases may need therapy." He remembers one couple he worked with, where it turned out that both of them were clinically depressed.
"They were brave enough to send out cancellation notices just days before the wedding. Now they're both involved with other people & much happier & healthier.
It takes guts to confront some of these issues, he says. But the time to do it is before -- not after -- the marriage.
Factors that predict marital satisfaction
1. High self-esteem
2. Long acquaintanceship
3. Good communication skills
4. Good conflict resolution skills/style
1. Older age
2. Healthy family-of-origin experiences
3. Happy parental marriage
4. Parental & friends' approval
5. Significant education & career preparation
These, too, are things couples can work on, says Larson. For example, research has shown that the better acquainted a couple is, the higher the marital satisfaction.
Some exercises to test acquaintanceship
- List your partner's 5 most important life goals.
- Discuss how you well you know your partner with others.
- How does your experience compare with theirs?
- Write a description of how well you know your partner's as well as your own blind spots.
- Consider how familiar you are with your partner's current life-stressors.
- Go through these together.
- Then set goals for improvement.
- Do this for each of the traits.
- Go slower. Talk about the more important & meaningful topics.
"The more you can increase your knowledge & understanding of your partner, the better off you'll be," says Larson. It takes some time, but that time is important. Don't be like the couple he just heard about who had decided they were lifetime partners -- after one 4 hour date.
"His recommendation is that couples be acquainted for a minimum of a year before they consider marriage."Your best resources," he says, "are time, self-disclosure & listening skills."
And, he says, if he had to choose one trait that would help the most in building a relationship it would be flexibility. That one thing can take care of a lot of potential problems.
With effort & commitment & caring, couples can find that "happily ever after," after all, he says.
Just don't expect it to be easy.
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