March 30, 2000
How newlyweds talk to each other, more than what they actually
Sweet nothings help marriages stick
By Karen S. Peterson, USA TODAY
say, can predict which couples will divorce with 87%
government-sponsored research says.
The results of the 10-year study from the University of
Seattle, add to the growing body of research sponsored
by the National
Institute of Mental Health that seeks to identify what
Interviewed within six months of marriage, couples who
already see each other "through rose-colored glasses,"
Sybil Carrere says. "Their behavior toward each other
is positive." Those
who will divorce already see each other "through fogged
cynical and unable to say good things about each other.
Researchers followed 95 couples in the Seattle area for
seven to nine
years, beginning six months into their marriages. The
interview together probed their relationship, their parents'
their philosophy of marriage.
More than what was actually said, researchers logged "if
fondness and admiration for their partner, if they talked
themselves as a unit, if they finished each other's sentences,
each other when they told a story, and whether what came
to mind was
pleasant," Carrere says.
Strong patterns emerged that suggested divorce later:
16 couples have
split in the study so far. UW psychology professor John
co-authored this marriage study and many others. He has
found that key
predictors of divorce include a husband's unwillingness
to be influenced
by his wife, who is often the one trying to solve marital
the wife starting quarrels "harshly" and with hostility.
Those tend to
escalate into bigger conflicts