Helping Orange County Families Heal Since 2009!

28 Dec

What is the Greatest Predictor of Long-Term Success in Marriage?

  • When you think of a successful, long-term marriage, what comes to mind?
  • Is it the image of an elderly couple, sitting on the front porch holding hands?
  • How did they get there? What was their secret to success?

It turns out that it’s no big secret what the greatest predictor of a successful marriage is. Let’s explore.

Is Success Based on Similar Personalities?

You’d think that a predictor of a successful marriage is when partners have similar personalities. However, that’s not necessarily the case.

Of course, it’s important for couples to be compatible. Yet, they certainly can have differing personalities. For example, one partner may be more introverted while the other is an extrovert.

However, while they may have different personalities, they have found a way to make those differences work in their relationship. Indeed, having different personalities can be an advantage when facing adversity or making important decisions.

Are Shared Interests the Greatest Predictor of a Successful Marriage?

When couples have shared interests, it certainly helps them with creating a stronger bond between one other.

Those interests may include:

  • Being fans of the same sports team
  • Pursuing a shared hobby
  • Playing music together
  • Enjoying adventure sports
  • Traveling together
  • Visiting museums or the theater
  • Cooking and food in general

However, couples can have different interests as well and still have a successful marriage. For instance, one partner may prefer to watch sports while the other attends a book club. These differences are okay as long as the couple has learned how to manage them within their marriage.

Yet, if one partner disapproves or dislikes another’s interests, it could set the couple up for having a disagreement. This could, in turn, lead to relationship distress.

What about Being Connected to a Community?

Certainly being connected to a greater community of family and friends is important for a successful relationship. Yet, it is not the defining factor for success.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you and your partner shouldn’t find other couples and friends to spend time with. In fact, doing so can actually strengthen your marriage.

For instance, if you have moved to a new area and are starting over, consider joining groups with people who have similar interests. Participating in group activities will help to kick-start friendships outside of the activity.

The Single Greatest Predictor of a Successful Marriage

So, if none of the above-mentioned factors are defining for a successful marriage, what is?

According to John Gottman of the Gottman Institute, the single greatest predictor for a successful marriage is repairing skills.

Repairing skills refers to a couple’s ability to resolve conflict. Of course, this includes having the ability to communicate effectively. However, other crucial parts are having empathy for one another and the ability to listen. Plus, being able to implement these repairing skills earlier rather than later, otherwise, the resentment and ill feelings towards one another may fester and make things worse.

Although it helps to have common interest or excellent communication skills, they alone do not determine a successful marriage. However, for couples who can quickly and effectively come together to repair a disagreement or argument, their future together looks much brighter.