The Premarital Communication Roots of Marital Distress and Divorce: The First Five Years of Marriage
Due to the high amount of marriages that end in divorce, there has been an increase in the study of marital distress. From these studies many theories have been made on how couples can maintain a happy and healthy relationship from before marriage and into the early years of marriage. While there have been studies of why people marry and divorce, "we know very little about how negatives and positives before marriage influence the course of marriage and how changes in positive and negatives over time influence marital outcomes" (Markman 289). According to the authors of the study, "this study is the first, to our knowledge, to investigate how positive and negative communication, assessed by both behavioral and self-report measures, change over time, and how these changes predict marital outcomes"(290). Negative and Positive Communication as Risk and Protective Factors
In 1979, Heller and Monahan published one of the first studies and discussions of positive and negative communication in marriages. The two discussed that "couples with communication-based risk factors and lower protective factors would be more vulnerable to the development of relationship problems" (290). This basically means that couples who were not able to communicate effectively and those who lacked the ability to solve conflicts were more likely to struggle and develop issues throughout their relationship. Early researchers also questioned how well participants could report on their own communication behaviors. This lack of certainty lead to "the addition of laboratory interaction tasks that allowed for both research participant and observer ratings of interactions" (290). Cross-Sectional Studies
In order to determine the differences between distressed couples and nondistressed couples studies were conducted in order to compare the two. The studies reported that the main difference between unhappy couples and happy couples were negative patterns. In other words, "negatives are stronger risk factors than positives are protective factors" (290). Prediction Research
Two different types of prediction studies have taken place: "Those predicting marital outcomes from early marital variables and those predicting marital trajectories"(290). Overall, these studies share the same overall idea which states that there will be declines in satisfaction over time; however, none of the studies were able to test the theories because of issues with their testing methods. Predictions of Marital Trajectories
There have been several studies which focused on marital trajectories in newlywed couples. The first study found that "couples were most at risk for declines in satisfaction when there was high negative communication and low positive affect" (290). This study did not assess the impact of positives and negatives over time but rather did so at the beginning and ending of their study. The second study concluded that "couples who ended up unhappy were more negative initially than couples who ended up happy" (291). Overall, these studies did show contrasting information due to how the study was conducted but there is still a connection between communication in and before marriage and the outcome of the future relationship. Current Study
Due to the fact that previous studies did not end with conclusive information there was need for a more current study. "The overarching aim of the current study was to assess how negative and positive communication, assessed by both self-report and observational coding of interactions before marriage, predict future divorce and marital satisfaction" (291). The current study assesses the communication within the relationship, both negative and positive, before marriage and through the first five years of marriage in order to determine the outcome of the relationship. The couples which are being...
Cited: Sarah W. Whitton, et al. "The Premarital Communication Roots Of Marital Distress And Divorce: The First Five Years Of Marriage." Journal Of Family Psychology 24.3 (2010): 289-298. PsycARTICLES. Web. 20 Dec. 2011.
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