This article examines the decline of marital satisfaction once the “honeymoon years” are over. It aims to find out if certain types of newlyweds are more prone to this decline in marital satisfaction than others. The authors found that past studies on patterns of change in marital satisfaction do not include any consist subgroups of change patterns. Instead, the studies have created subgroups of spouses based on their patterns of change. These studies have focused mainly on established couples and failed to look directly at newlyweds.
The authors predict four main findings when trying to determine whether satisfaction decline is typical of all newlyweds, or just certain ones. First, they believe that there will be identifiable subgroups of satisfaction trajectories over the early years of marriage. Their second prediction says that one or more of these subgroups will include spouses with stable trajectories, and these groups will be more prevalent amongst relatively satisfied marriages.
Thirdly, the groups of individuals that are declining in marital satisfaction will be isolated among those with moderate or low initial satisfaction levels, and will have had lower initial levels of satisfaction. Lastly, they predict that divorce will occur in marriages with low levels of satisfaction but also low levels of distress. In order study this, the authors applied a mixture of techniques to marital satisfaction reports collected over 4 years. With these reports it was their goal to identify groups of spouses that have similar trajectories, which then led to their predictions.
At the end of the study, one main finding concluded that subgroups of satisfaction trajectories can be identified over the first 4 years of marriage, and that this general result found 5 different groups of trajectories. With this, their findings also concluded that satisfaction of marriage does not decline for everyone, but instead is confined to certain subgroups. This study relates to positive psychology because it deals with marriage and divorce, a topic that we spent a good amount of time talking about in class.
Our textbook talks about how relationships are almost bound to change after marriage in the section “The Bloom Is Off the Rose” in Chapter 8. The book states, “ The plain truth is that most successful marriages experience a decrease in the intensity of romantic love. ” This relates almost directly to the decrease in marital satisfaction that they are examining in the study. The book also goes on to say that “friendship, mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance must be developed by the post-honeymoon phase of the marriage if it is to last. This article holds true to the last statement from the text, and I would guess that the formation of the characteristics of friendship, mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance after the honeymoon phase are prevalent in the subgroups which did not decline in marital satisfaction. Knowing that romantic love is likely to decline, couples should work towards forming a companionate love in order to avoid lower satisfaction levels that may lead to a collapse in the relationship.