Reporter Request/replies to Will Your Marriage Last? -4/00
Fri Apr 28 14:43:36 EDT 2000
from: Smart Marriages
McCalls Magazine is looking for couples that divorced and reunited - and
are happy. They
want happy endings and couples who are between 25 and 42 years old.
If you have leads let me know ASAP and I'll hook you up to the reporter.
Hi Diane, remember me? We've worked together on previous articles.
I need to find a statistic. Do you know where I
could find how much time, on average, today's couple spends together one
one on a weekly or daily basis? I keep hearing around 20 minutes a day
one seems to know where that figure comes from.
Beth Levine, Readers Digest
Do any of you have a reference on this?
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Responses to article "Will Your Marriage Last?"
<< "The dominant approach has been to work
>with couples to resolve conflict, BUT it should focus on preserving the
positive feelings. >>
Well, this is interesting work. I can actually agree with the premise
the most part.
However, a few thoughts (should you want to post them with regard to the
I'll take this opportunity to make the point that many people do not
know the content very well of the various programs in the field (Ted may,
though). But as far as we at PREP go, we find people consistently overly
"tag" it as merely a conflict resolution program.
So, to be unambiguous with regard to PREP, we focus a great deal on both
handling the negative side well (for which we find skills and structure
immensely helpful for couples) and on preserving the deepening the
side. Hence, while many know us relatively well for the aspects of
negative interaction and conflicts better, we also have very strong focus
such positive dimensions as friendship, fun, sensual connection,
connection, forgiveness, and commitment.
In our model, we also see the positives as crucial to how couples will do
time. However, we believe it is the highly salient negatives that erode
positive connections over time -- that the positives are powerfully
the negatives. This, along with a failure to preserve time for the
that bonded the couple in the first place (a commitment point), leads all
many couples to a place where they are out of touch with the positives
drew them together in the first place.
As we say in (Stanley, S.M., Blumberg, S.L., & Markman, H.J. (1999).
"Helping Couples Fight for Their Marriages: The PREP Approach" in R.
M. Hannah, (Eds.), Handbook of preventive approaches in couple therapy.
York: Brunner/Mazel. Pp. 279-303.):
"Certain patterns of mismanaged conflict that are destructive for
relationships will be repeatedly expressed in many couples (Gottman,
Gottman & Krokoff, 1989; Markman, Stanley, & Blumberg, 1994; Notarius &
Markman, 1993). Out of this mix, a very important change occurs over
the relationship: the presence of the partner becomes increasingly
with pain and frustration, not pleasure or support. For most couples,
violates a basic assumption about what being together is about--having a
intimate and supportive friend for life."
I have come to think that the hallmark change from being on the path to
making it to not making it for most couples is this shift wherein one or
begin to reliably associate the other with pain.
Back to the main point: It's NOT an either or proposition. Effective
interventions for couples are very likely to include two major thrusts:
an emphasis on how to protect and nurture the positives (which in our
includes making the time for them and protecting those times FROM the
negatives); and 2) strategies to help couples manage the negative side
better, which can include measures for reducing negative interaction,
stopping negative spiraling interactions, ways to talk more safely about
differences and disagreements, etc. It is the latter focus, we believe,
where the benefit of specific skills and startegies is most important.
seek to help couples structure the negative side better and keep room for
positive to blossom.
Final point: from some simple polling data we have here that we have
recently submitted for publication, we find an interesting point. We
subjects all kinds of questions about their relationships, including
the presence of negative interaction as well as about the presence of
positives such as happiness, friendship, fun, and sensual connection. We
asked about the degree to which subjects had been talking or thinking
divorce. I quote from the document we have under review:
"Most interestingly, the regression analysis suggests that, for males,
negative interaction plays a stronger role than positivity in their
about divorce whereas, for women, positivity explained more of this
than negative interaction. As such, these data are consistent with the
that women are more sensitive to an absence of connection in romantic
relationships whereas men are more sensitive to the presence of negative
I conclude by noting that both maintaining and building positives is a
important goal as is reducing and controlling negatives. Further, I
agree with a point being made by Huston that a high level of positives
buffer how people approach the negatives. In other words, when partners
doing really well and feeling good about one another, they will inhibit
negative behavior. And conversely, when they are not able or willing to
inhibit negative behavior, the positives will be greatly and rapidly
Either can, in a sense, be reduced theoretically to the other. Both are
important and not to be diminished.
University of Denver
I feel essentially all marriages fail. One or both partners break a lot
the rules (e.g. as described in "HIS NEEDS HER NEEDS" or "THE LAWS OF
MARRIAGE"). They break the rules because no one is telling them what the
rules are and what the consequences are. My feeling is those who make it
the ones who decide to go on in spite of the desire to end the marriage.
someone was teaching the rules and consequences the stats for that group
would be better than the 50% failure we see nation wide. Church members
example fare no better than non church members sothe churches aren't
providing this teaching. People who attend marriage seminars and
psychological counseling have the same stats too.
The reason I feel is we don't realize the consequences of our "wrong
until it's too late. Even the marriage seminars and books on marriage
(except mine "THE LAWS OF MARRIAGE" ) don't warn that failure to follow
certain rules will almost certainly lead to affairs, loss of love for
other, divorce, etc. Hence most people attending seminars or reading
on marriage feel distanced from the advice they receive. In other words
sounds like good advice but it's other people and not themselves who need
heed the advice and actually make an immediate change for the better.
Most people feel they will make these changes later if the need arises.
then find out it's too late when they catch their mate in an affair, etc.
etc.. It's how they handle this calamity that determines whether they
divorce. The rates would be much better if the changes were made before
calamity. Also teaching that these calamities should be expected unless
are willing to really work hard at the rules would soften the blow when
calamity happens. Without this teaching everyone thinks the calamity
certainly gives a reason to leave the "wrong doer".
Marriage counselors, the church, the divorce lawyers give credence to the
complaint that "the other person" deserves to be corrected. Trying to
the person who is "innocent" that they've done wrong too is virtually
impossible after a calamity has happened. Hence instead of reasoning
"we've both done wrong and need to make major changes" the reasoning is
whether to forgive the one who is obviously so bad.
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