303 Premarital Factors in Long Marriages

Based on research done by Clements, Mari. L., Stanley, Scott. M., & Markman, Howard. J. (2004) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Can we predict martial satisfaction years ahead?

Denver psychologists followed 100 couples starting from engagement with yearly follow-ups for 13 years measuring change in satisfaction and marital difficulties. Couples reported on their conflict management skills, problem solving, emotional expression, and communication skills. Researchers categorized couples into one of three groups; divorced, distressed, and happy marriages, based on marital status and satisfaction over time.

Results indicated that premarital negative interactions, like being defensive and blaming others, and poor conflict management predicted worse marital outcomes 13 years later. Furthermore, factors such as younger age at marriage and lower premarital happiness increased the risk for distress and dissolving the marriage.

The basis of marital discord begins before couples take vows. Problems in a relationship, identified from the beginning, predict unhappiness and/or divorce. Yet, intervention for change may be helpful.

Manage conflict openly as it arises. Avoid blame, apologize readily, and thank your partner often. Seek to resolve conflicts, encourage and recognize your partner’s successes. Daily, say what you like that they did and “I love you.”  These may be the recipe for a long and happy marriage.


Clements, M. L., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2004). Before they said “I do”: Discriminating among marital outcomes over 13 years. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(3), 13-26.

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