High standards could make or break a marriage

Posted on March 21, 2016

Photo: flickr

Previous studies have suggested that spouses who have high standards for their marriage are more likely to be disappointed if these standards are not met, compared with spouses who have lower standards, and that this disappointment can harm relationships.

However according to the researcher, indirect hostility - such as stubbornness, procrastination and sullen behavior - is more damaging to verbal problem-solving than direct hostility.

"Prior work by our lab and others indicates that direct hostility, such as blaming the partner for a problem and demanding that the partner change, can have important benefits to some couples, specifically those who need to change," says Dr. McNulty, professor of psychology at Florida State University. "Our prior research indicates indirect hostility is harmful for all couples."

Overall, Dr. McNulty says that while high standards may encourage couples to work on their relationships, his study shows that there are a number of barriers that may prevent couples from reaching those standards, even when they want to.

"Each marriage is different; people differ in their compatibility, their skills, and the external stressors they face," says Dr. McNulty. "All of these play an important role in determining how successful a marriage will be and thus how much people should demand from it."

"Couples need to realize their strengths and weaknesses and calibrate their standards accordingly," he adds.

Category(s):Marital Counseling, Relationships & Marriage

Source material from Personality and Social Psychology

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