151 Marital Predictions

Based on research by Buehlman, Kim T., Gottman, John M., and Katz, L.F. (1992), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

What leads a couple to a successful marriage or divorce?

Dr. John Gottman, a leading researcher on marital satisfaction, conducted a long-term study to figure this out!  Married couples participated in an interview where they answered a set of open-ended questions about the history of their relationship.  Next, they visited a laboratory where the researchers observed their behavior during a 15-minute discussion of two problem areas in their relationship.  Three years later, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding marital satisfaction, and current marital status.  By evaluating seven relationship dimensions, Dr. Gottman successfully predicted which couples would be in a stable marriage or divorced in 94% of the cases.  The predictions were based on the couple’s problem solving behavior and emotional expression. The couples that were divorced or separated within three years, described their lives as more chaotic, did not show positivity when discussing their past, and were far more negative when attempting to solve a problem. Among these couples, the husbands and wives showed a greater tendency to complain or criticize one another.

To strengthen your marriage, work together to solve problems.  Put effort into complimenting your partner.  Show some positivity and let them know why you appreciate and love them!


Buehlman, K. T., Gottman, J. M., & Katz, L. F. (1992). How a couple views their past predicts their future: Predicting divorce from an oral history interview. Journal of Family Psychology, 5(3-4), 295.

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