447 Marriage and Journaling

Research by Finkel, Eli; Slotter, Erica; Luchies, Laura; Walton, Gregory;& Gross, James (2013). A Brief Intervention to Promote Conflict Reappraisal Preserves Marital Quality Over Time. Psychological Science, 24(8), 1595–1601.https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612474938

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

Research shows marital quality declines over time, even though marital satisfaction is a part of life satisfaction. University psychology researchers attempted to create an easy, short technique for couples to try at home to improve their relationship.

They recruited 120 couples to participate in a two-year experiment. The first year, every 4 months, participants reported their feelings toward their partners and described an argument that occurred. In year two, every four months, half of the couples received prompts to take the perspective of a third-party observer and write about their conflict. Each time for just 7 minutes they journaled about positive outcomes, obstacles, and alternative reactions. The other 60 couples did not do this writing task.

Results? Couples in both groups experienced a decline in marital satisfaction the first year. During the second year, while this decline continued for the couples who did not do the writing task, those journaling maintained marital satisfaction. Over one year, only 21 minutes reviewing conflicts thoughtfully and objectively showed benefits!

Three times per year, reflect as a third party. Write down the positives, obstacles, and alternative reactions to a conflict. Doing so will maintain your relationship.

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