Conscious feelings often fail to indicate happy marriage

Marriage (Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

Main Point:

Researchers have found that there are some unconscious feelings in the married couples that can better predict the future happiness. So, don’t worry about the apparent behavior or conscious thoughts.

Published in:

Science

Study Further:

Researchers, in the present study, worked with 135 newlywed couples (270 individuals) for the first four years and found that gut-level feelings are better indicators for the outcome of the relationship. These gut-level feelings are either difficult to explain or the volunteers are unwilling to tell about these feelings.

Researchers gave a questionnaire to participants asking them how much they are satisfied with their relationships. The study showed that the consciously held points in survey were of little relation to the index of happiness.

Participants were also tested for their gut-level feelings, called as “automatic attitude”, by checking their reaction times to positive (“awesome”) and negative (“horrible”) words after showing photographs of their spouses, or others as a random control. In this way, researchers checked that the people who were more positive towards their spouse rapidly responded to the positive words and slower to negative words. On the other hand, people, who showed slower response, were more dissatisfied with their marriage over the same time period.

This shows that some people are negatively associated with some feelings but unconsciously they felt differently. In this case, “Positive illusions, and maintaining them, is generally a great thing over time in a relationship where the beliefs and perceptions of the partner are positive and warranted,” said Scott Stanley, a relationship expert and professor of psychology at the University of Denver.

“Over time, the implicit or unaware evaluations of the relationship predicted changes of marital satisfaction, whereas the explicit or conscious evaluations did not,” the research showed.

Sources:

Gut feelings could foretell future marriage happiness – The Conversation (http://goo.gl/OUWHed)

James K. McNulty et al. (2013). Though They May Be Unaware, Newlyweds Implicitly Know Whether Their Marriage Will Be Satisfying Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1243140