I keep them here as an archive for readers in rural and remote Canada and Australia who use dial up internet connections.
A. This course is about relationships: intimate relationships, marriage relationships, and family relationships.
B. In this discussion, we are concerned with how we can live together in a harmonious, fulfilling, successful way.
C. The particular focus here is on qualities of successful marriages, but the principles discussed may be applied to any intimate relationship.
II. Criteria for evaluating marital success
1. Success in marriage is evaluated according to a number of different criteria.
2. One of these is durability. The marriage that lasts, that remains unbroken, is considered more successful than the marriage that breaks up.
3. However, couples may stay together and still be unhappy in a conflicting, frustrating, hate-filled relationship.
B. Approximation of ideals
1. Another way of evaluating marital success is the extent to which it approximates a couples ideals or fulfills their expectations.
2. Individual expectations and concepts vary.
3. Some people have unrealistic expectations that may never be fulfilled and judge their marriages by standards that are impossible to achieve.
C. Fulfillment of needs
1. Another criteria of marital success is whether the marriage makes a sufficient contribution to individual psychological, social, sexual, and material needs.
2. However, marriage can never fulfills every need. Some needs have to be met apart from the marriage.
3. Need fulfillment should be mutual.
4. Need fulfillment is most possible if needs are within the limits of realistic expectations.
1. Most of the research on marriage success measures marital satisfaction.
2. Marital success is defined as the extent to which both partners in the relationship are satisfied that it has fulfilled reasonable expectations and mutual needs.
3. Marital satisfaction includes marital quality, marital adjustments, and marital happiness.
4. It is important that both partners be satisfied. There are degrees of success, and successful couples strive for improvement.
5. Marital satisfaction is a comprehensive concept and is the one accepted here as the criterion for marital success.
III. Happy versus unhappy marriages
A. Negative affect reciprocity is a consistent characteristic of distressed couples.
1. In happy couples, when one partner makes a positive statement, it is reciprocated in a positive manner; if the statement is negative, the partner offers no immediate response.
2. In unhappy couples, when one partner makes a positive statement, the partner has no immediate response; if the statement is negative, the partners offers immediate negative response, and the couple continues to reciprocate negatively.
B. Some messages can be interpreted either positively or negatively.
1. In happy marriages, there is a greater probability that the listener will focus on the positive aspect of the message.
2. In unhappy marriages, there is a greater probability that the listener will respond only to the negative aspect of the message.
C. There is a difference in how spouses in happy and unhappy marriages view positive and negative actions of their partners.
1. In a happy marriage, if one partner does something negative, the other partner tends to think that the negativity is fleeting and situational. Positive behaviour is interpreted as internal to the partner.
2. In an unhappy marriage, the same behaviour is likely to be interpreted as inconsideration, selfishness, and indifference and as internal to the partner. Positive behaviour is interpreted as situational and will not last.
D. Another characteristic of unhappy marriages is the demand-withdraw (or pursuer-distancer) pattern.
1. Generally it is the woman who raises and pursues the issues and the man who attempts to avoid the discussion and tends to withdraw.
2. Research suggests that in unhappy marriages men withdraw emotionally and women do not.
E. Gottman found that it was not anger that led to unhappy marriages and predicted divorce but rather four processes he called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling, or listener withdrawal.
F. Olson found five key areas in which happy couples and unhappy couples differ: communication, flexibility, emotional closeness, compatibility of personalities, and conflict handling.
G. Olson identified five other areas that affect a couples happiness: sexual relationship, choice of leisure activities, influence of family and friends, ability to manage finances, and agreement of spiritual beliefs.
H. Patterns of marital relationships
1. Marital satisfaction depends partially on the congruence between marital expectations and accomplishments.
2. Seven types of marriage have been identified: Devitalised couples, financially focused couples, conflicted couples, traditional couples, balanced couples, harmonious couples, and vitalized couples.
3. This typology of marital types enables us to recognize that not all marriages are alike. The first three types devitalized, financially focused, and conflicted have few areas of strength and are most distressed. The traditional couples have a base of strength to build on, but they lack communication and conflict-resolution skills. The last three marital types balanced couples, harmonious couples, and vitalized couples really do not need marital therapy unless some dramatic experience arose very suddenly.
IV. Twelve characteristics of successful marriages
A. Research findings
1. The findings on qualities of successful marriages have been taken from four representative studies by summarizing the findings of all four of the studies.
2. In the discussion here, family background factors are not included.
3. We are concerned with a mixture of personality characteristics of the partners and characteristics of the relationship itself, which together constitute qualities important to marital success.
1. Good communication is one of the most important requirements in successful marriage.
2. Poor communication results in increasing anger, tension, and frustration in getting others to listen and understand.
3. Effective communication involves the ability to exchange ideas, facts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs so that messages from the sender are accurately heard and interpreted by the receiver, and vice versa.
4. Not all communication is helpful to the relationship; it can be either productive or destructive.
5. Politeness, tact, and consideration are required if communication is to be productive.
C. Admiration and respect
1. One of the most important human needs is for acceptance and appreciation.
2. Partners who like, admire, and support each other, are proud of each other, and build each others self-esteem are fulfilling their emotional needs in a satisfying relationship.
3. Partners who are able to respect each other are usually emotionally secure people themselves.
4. Their approval of each other is what psychologists call non contingent reinforcement, unconditional positive regard.
1. Successful married couples spend sufficient and quality time together.
2. They enjoy each others company, share common interests and activities, and laugh together.
3. Most people want some separateness in their togetherness. Some differ on how close they want their companionship to be.
E. Spirituality, values
1. Shared spirituality and values contribute to marital success.
2. Religiosity is the most consistent and strongest predictor of marital adjustment.
3. Religion contributes to marriage in a number of ways, including social and emotional support, friends and activities to share, encouragement of marital commitment, and increased intimacy as a result of sharing ones faith.
1. Successful marriage requires a high degree of motivation: the desire to make it work and a willingness to expend personal time and effort.
2. Marital success is more attainable if the commitment is mutual.
3. The commitment is threefold: to the self, to each other, and to the relationship the marriage and the family.
4. A distinction needs to be made between personal dedication and constrained commitment.
a. Personal dedication refers to the desire of an individual to maintain or improve the quality of his or her relationship for the joint benefit of the participants.
b. Constrained commitment refers to forces that constrain individuals to maintain relationships regardless of their personal dedication to them.
5. One of the hardest tasks is to balance commitment with personal autonomy and freedom.
6. Commitment is enhanced if made with an assumption of permanence.
1. One important expectation of most married partners is that they will meet each others need for love and affection. However, needs vary.
2. It is important that partners agree on how to show affection and on how often to do so.
3. Both physical and verbal expressions of affection are important.
4. In successful marriages, love grows, but changes over the years with fewer components of romanticism and stronger bonds of attachment and affection.
5. Emotional bonding and affective expression are important ingredients of marital success.
H. Ability to deal with crises, stress
1. All couples experience problems and stress. Successful couples are able to solve their problems and manage stress in a creative way.
2. They also have a greater tolerance for frustration than do unsuccessful couples.
1. Responsibility involves being accountable for ones own behaviour within the context of the family.
2. Successful marriage depends upon the mutual assumption, sharing, and division of responsibility in the family.
3. In marriages in which couples report a high degree of satisfaction, two conditions exist in relation to the division of responsibility: there is a fairly equal division of labour, and gender-role performance matches gender-role expectations.
1. Selfishness in marriage lessens each partners willingness to assume responsibility for the relationship.
2. The most successful relationships are based on a spirit of mutual helpfulness.
3. Paradoxically, the people who are the most self-centred and self-serving are less likely to feel fulfilled and happy and are less often able to bring happiness to others.
K. Empathy and sensitivity
1. Empathy means the ability to identify with the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of another person.
2. Empathy is affective sensitivity to others and is important in a successful marriage.
3. Affective sensitivity develops in five steps: perception, experiencing, awareness, labeling, and stating.
L. Honesty, trust, fidelity
1. These old-fashioned virtues are important ingredients in contemporary successful marriages.
2. Partners need to know that they can accept each others word, believe in each other, depend on each other to keep promises, and be faithful to commitments that are made. They need to be honest and sincere.
3. Research on trust indicates that it is the degree of confidence people feel in their relationship; it is the feeling that the other person is predictably dependable. People who trust others are more dependable and trustworthy themselves. High trusters are more likable, happier, more ethical, more attractive to the opposite sex, better adjusted, and more desirable as close friends than are low trusters. They are not more gullible or less intelligent. When they have evidence that others cannot be trusted, they are not more trusting. Once trust has been violated, it becomes doubly difficult to reestablish.
M. Adaptability, flexibility, tolerance
1. Adaptable, flexible people recognize that people differ in the way they think, in their attitudes, values, habits, and ways of doing things.
2. They don't insist that everyone be a carbon copy of themselves.
3. They recognize that life is not static, that people and circumstances change.
4. Adaptability and flexibility require a high degree of emotional maturity.
5. The most difficult people to deal with are perfectionists, who have only one rigid standard by which they judge everyone, who have impossibly high standards, who fear criticism and rejection and so are always on the defensive, and who inhibit self-disclosure and so are hard to communicate with.