1 Personality Trait Predicts Happy Marriage Over 40+ Years

One personality trait emerged as the most important for satisfaction across 40+ years of marriage.

One personality trait emerged as the most important for satisfaction across 40+ years of marriage.

People with very stable emotions tend to have the best marriages, research finds.

Stable emotions reflect low levels of the personality trait of neuroticism.

Emotionally stable people (those low in neuroticism) tend not to criticise their partners, behave defensively or be contemptuous of them.

In married couples, having an extraverted, outgoing partner is also linked to higher satisfaction.

In addition, both high agreeableness and high conscientiousness are linked to relationship satisfaction in dating couples.

But it is having a partner that is co-operative and responsible that is the key, not necessarily being that way yourself.

Neuroticism, though, has the greatest effect of all personality traits on how satisfied couples are with their relationship.

People with high levels of neuroticism are more likely to get divorced.

To see how beneficial these traits are imagine for a moment the reverse of someone who is stable, agreeable and responsible.

Being neurotic, along with dis-agreeable and irresponsible is known as the ‘lack-of-self-control’ cluster of personality traits.

It is not hard to see why this set of three personality traits — that are linked to psychopathology and substance abuse — might not make for the best marriage.

The conclusions come from a study that surveyed 136 dating couples and 74 married couples.

They were asked about both their own and their partner’s personality as well as their satisfaction with their marriage.

The personality trait of neuroticism — one of the five major aspects of personality — emerged as most important, just as it has over decades of research.

The study’s authors describe one early piece of research that…

“…studied 278 couples from the mid-1930s through the early 1980s.


Analyses indicated that respondents who initially were high on neuroticism were more likely to become divorced over the course of the study.


Neuroticism scores showed significant predictive power across time spans of more than 40 years.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Watson et al., 2001).

How Your Closest Relationships Affect Your Physical Health (M)

It is the ups and downs that matter in how our closest relationships affect our physical health.

It is the ups and downs that matter in how our closest relationships affect our physical health.

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The Most Damaging Argument For A Relationship — Top Divorce Predictor

Arguing about this damaging subject predicts divorce, research finds.

Arguing about this damaging subject predicts divorce, research finds.

Arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce, research finds.

While arguing about money, couples use the harshest language and the arguments are also more intense and last longer.

Money arguments also take longer than any other to recover from.

Naturally, then, the more arguments about money couples have, the lower their satisfaction with the relationship.

Dr Sonya Britt-Lutter, study co-author, said:

“Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce.

It’s not children, in-laws or anything else.

It’s money — for both men and women.”

The conclusions come from a nationally representative survey of over 4,500 couples.

Dr Britt-Lutter explained the results:

“In the study, we controlled for income, debt and net worth.

Results revealed it didn’t matter how much you made or how much you were worth.

Arguments about money are the top predictor for divorce because it happens at all levels.”

The researchers found that arguments from the very start of the relationship about money were a particularly bad sign.

Dr Britt-Lutter said:

“You can measure people’s money arguments when they are very first married.

It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, but when they were first together and already arguing about money, there is a good chance they are going to have poor relationship satisfaction.”

People who are stressed about money tend to avoid the issue, which makes matters worse.

Dr Britt-Lutter said:

“…people who are stressed are very short-term focused.

They don’t plan for the future.

If you can reduce stress, you can increase planning.”

If the money is not being treated fairly in the household, then the relationship satisfaction is going to be lower.”

The study was published in the journal Family Relations (Dew et al., 2012).

This ‘Good’ Relationship Pattern Is Surprisingly Toxic

The pattern can even lead to depression and anxiety.

The pattern can even lead to depression and anxiety.

Too much commitment to a relationship can be surprisingly toxic, research shows.

While relationship commitment is usually thought of as a good thing, excessive commitment can be damaging

The reason is that being too committed can lead to small things getting blown out of proportion — it can even lead to depression and anxiety.

It comes about when a person invests too much of their self-esteem in their relationship.

In other words, they believe their own self-worth is controlled by how well their relationship is going.

This is bad for the person and the relationship.

Psychologists term this high ‘relationship-contingent self-esteem’ (RCSE)

Professor Raymond Knee, the study’s first author, said:

“Individuals with high levels of RCSE are very committed to their relationships, but they also find themselves at risk to become devastated when something goes wrong — even a relatively minor event.

An overwhelming amount of the wrong kind of commitment can actually undermine a relationship.”

In the key study, 198 people recorded the ups and downs of their romantic relationships in a diary for two weeks.

Professor Knee explained the results:

“What we found with this particular study was that people with higher levels of RCSE felt worse about themselves during negative moments in their relationships.

It’s as if it doesn’t matter why the negative occurrence happens or who was at fault.

The partners with stronger RCSE still feel badly about themselves.”

People whose self-esteem is invested too much in the relationship react very emotionally to problems.

Professor Knee said:

“When something happens in a relationship, these individuals don’t separate themselves from it.

They immediately feel personally connected to any negative circumstance in a relationship and become anxious, more depressed and hostile.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Knee et al., 2008).

The Most Toxic Relationship Pattern Can Change

This toxic pattern can change as relationships mature.

This toxic pattern can change as relationships mature.

The most toxic relationship pattern is the demand/withdraw pattern, research finds.

One partner — often, but not always the woman — makes demands, trying to pressure the other to change.

The other partner — often, but not always the man — wants to avoid discussing the issue, so withdraws.

In other words, the women nags while the man gives her the silent treatment.

Naturally, both behaviours are bad for the relationship.

The pattern is dangerous because it automatically escalates and self-perpetuates.

Since the demanding partner is still dissatisfied, they increase their demands.

The increased demands make the other person retreat even more into their shell.

Dr Sarah Holley, the study’s first author, said:

“This can lead to a polarization between the two partners which can be very difficult to resolve and can take a major toll on relationship satisfaction.”

Indeed, couples who display the demand-withdraw pattern have the worst relationship satisfaction, along with lower intimacy and poor communication.

Which person makes the demands tends to be down to who wants change.

Dr Holley explained that there is…

“…strong support for the idea that the partner who desires more change … will be much more likely to occupy the demanding role, whereas the partner who desires less change — and therefore may benefit from maintaining the status quo — will be more likely to occupy the withdrawing role.”

Changing the toxic pattern

This toxic pattern, though, can change as relationships mature.

Couples who have been together longer learn to avoid these sorts of demand-withdraw interactions.

The conclusions come from a study of 127 middle-aged and older couples who were followed over 13 years.

The results showed that more established couples learned to steer conversations away from toxic areas and towards more pleasant, or at least neutral topics.

Avoidance is sometimes seen as a problem, but in this context it may be better for couples who know each other very well to simply avoid pressure points.

Age tends to make people seek more positive experiences and reduce the importance of arguments.

Couples may also learn to deal better with certain issues, Dr Holley things:

“It may not be an either-or question.

It may be that both age and marital duration play a role in increased avoidance.”

The study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (Holley et al., 2013).

These Personality Types Are The Most Compatible

The main thing people look for in a partner.

The main thing people look for in a partner.

People tend to look for the same personality type in a partner over-and-over again, research concludes.

One of the main things people look for is a similar personality to themselves.

So, extraverts prefer other extraverts, agreeable people prefer other agreeable people, and so on.

However, it is more than that, the researchers found.

There is also a lot of similarity between a person’s ex-partners.

One of the advantages of having similar partners is learning how to deal with a particular personality type.

Ms Yoobin Park, the study’s first author, said:

“In every relationship, people learn strategies for working with their partner’s personality.

If your new partner’s personality resembles your ex-partner’s personality, transferring the skills you learned might be an effective way to start a new relationship on a good footing.”

The conclusions come from a study of 332 people.

Researchers compared the personalities of their current partners with those of their past partners.

They were asked how much they agreed with statements like:

  • “I am usually modest and reserved.”
  • “I am interested in many different kinds of things.”
  • “I make plans and carry them out.”

The results showed that people tend to have a ‘type’, said Ms Park:

“It’s common that when a relationship ends, people attribute the breakup to their ex-partner’s personality and decide they need to date a different type of person.

Our research suggests there’s a strong tendency to nevertheless continue to date a similar personality.

The effect is more than just a tendency to date someone similar to yourself.

The degree of consistency from one relationship to the next suggests that people may indeed have a ‘type’.

And though our data do not make clear why people’s partners exhibit similar personalities, it is noteworthy that we found partner similarity above and beyond similarity to oneself.”

In some circumstances, though, sticking to the same personality type all the time can be damaging, said Ms Park:

“So, if you find you’re having the same issues in relationship after relationship, you may want to think about how gravitating toward the same personality traits in a partner is contributing to the consistency in your problems.”

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Park & MacDonald, 2019).

Sacrifices Can Improve Your Relationship If They Are Done Willingly

The way of thinking about relationship sacrifices that is linked to satisfaction.

The way of thinking about relationship sacrifices that is linked to satisfaction.

People who make sacrifices in their relationship because they want to are more satisfied, research finds.

Those who make sacrifices because they feel pressured into it are less satisfied.

The difference could help to explain why some relationships work, and others don’t.

Sometimes couples appear to be working well together, but underneath the story is different.

Dr Heather Patrick, the study’s first author, said:

“It’s important to understand what makes positive relationships positive and what might undermine positive experiences.”

The conclusions come from a study in which 266 men and women documented their own and their partner’s pro-relationship behaviours for two weeks.

Pro-relationship behaviours are any sacrifices made out of consideration for the other person.

Partners who carried out more of these selfless behaviours because they wanted to felt closer to their mate and were more committed and more satisfied.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Patrick et al., 2007).

This Is The Most Toxic Relationship Pattern

The pattern is linked to anger, sadness, fear and even threats and aggression.

The pattern is linked to anger, sadness, fear and even threats and aggression.

The silent treatment is part of the most common toxic pattern in a relationship, psychologists have found.

It is when one partner stops communicating in response to demands for change from the other.

The pattern is most often triggered by marital topics, such as habits, personality, communication and intimacy — not so much children, work or outside relationships.

Psychologists call it the ‘demand-withdraw’ pattern, as one partner is demanding an issue is resolved, while the other wants to avoid it, so shuts down communication on the topic.

Both behaviours damage the relationship: demanding change causes friction, as does failing to communicate.

That is why the tactic is linked to low marital satisfaction, more negative emotions and an inability to resolve marital conflicts, research finds.

When one or both partners are also depressed, the pattern becomes even more toxic as couples are more likely to fall into the pattern.

The conclusions come from a study in which 116 couples kept diaries of their marital conflicts and were asked about any depression symptoms.

The results showed that the demand-withdraw pattern was linked to anger, sadness, fear and even threats and aggression, the authors write:

“Demand-withdraw patterns were consistently related to greater likelihood of negative tactics (i.e., threat, physical distress, verbal hostility, aggression) and higher levels of negative emotions (i.e., anger, sadness, fear), and to lower likelihood of constructive tactics (i.e., affection, support, problem solving, compromise) and lower levels of positivity.”

Husbands and wives were equally likely to be the one making the demands, the authors write:

“…both husband demand-wife withdraw and wife demand-husband withdraw patterns were displayed at nearly equal frequencies, a finding that counters others’ demonstrations that wife demand-husband withdraw is more commonly expressed.”

Demand-withdraw patterns are not related to personality.

In other words, couples are not stuck with them — they can change.

The study was published in the journal Personal Relationships (Papp et al., 2015).

A Simple Sign That A Relationship Will NOT Last

Only one partner in a couple needs to have this quality.

Only one partner in a couple needs to have this quality.

Couples who do not recover quickly from arguments are unlikely to stay together, research finds.

In contrast, those who do recover quickly are more likely to stay together.

And being able to recover quickly from an argument goes back to childhood.

People who were more ‘securely attached’ to their parents as children are better at regulating their emotions in adulthood, the study found.

Children who are securely attached to their parents or caregiver feel protected and trust them.

The same is true in adult relationships: people who feel protected and trust each other can better regulate their emotions at trying times, like when arguing.

Dr Jessica E. Salvatore, the study’s first author, said:

“We found that people who were insecurely attached as infants but whose adult romantic partners recover well from conflict are likely to stay together.

If one person can lead this process of recovering from conflict, it may buffer the other person and the relationship.”

The results come from a study of 73 people who were tracked from birth.

Each person was induced to have a heated discussion with their partner and then they were given a cool-down period.

Dr Salvatore explained:

“As part of another project where we looked at how couples fight, I would often catch a few minutes of this cool-down period.”

Dr Salvatore noticed that some couples were able to move from a heated discussion right back to pleasant chatting without too much effort.

Other couples, though, got stuck on their conflict and couldn’t cool down.

When they looked back at people’s childhood assessments, they spotted that securely attached people were better at regulating their emotions in their relationship as well.

The researchers also discovered that only one person in the couple needs to be a calming influence.

Dr Salvatore said:

“That, to us, was the most exciting finding.

There’s something about the important people later in our lives that changes the consequences of what happened earlier.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Salvatore et al., 2010).

Marriage Has An Amazing Effect On Dementia Risk

Almost 6 million people in the US live with dementia.

Almost 6 million people in the US live with dementia.

Marriage can help stave off dementia, research suggests.

Married people are less likely to develop dementia as they age, multiple studies have found.

The protective effect of marriage could be down to couples helping each other live healthier lives.

They may exercise more, eat a healthier diet and get more social stimulation.

Divorcees, though, are twice as likely to get dementia, with men particularly strongly affected.

People who are divorced have a higher risk of dementia than those who never married, the study found.

Professor Hui Liu, the study’s first author, said:

“This research is important because the number of unmarried older adults in the United States continues to grow, as people live longer and their marital histories become more complex.

Marital status is an important but overlooked social risk/protective factor for dementia.”

The study included 15,379 people over the age of 52.

All were part of a survey carried out over 14 years that asked people about many aspects of their life, including their relationships and health.

Every two years they were given a test of cognitive health.

Divorced people emerged as being at the highest risk of dementia.

This was only partly accounted for by differences in economic status.

Previous studies have shown that marriage can reduce the risk of developing dementia by 42%.

Compared with married people, lifelong singletons were 42% more likely to develop dementia.

People who were widowed had a 20% increased chance of developing dementia.

Professor Liu said:

“These findings will be helpful for health policy makers and practitioners who seek to better identify vulnerable populations and to design effective intervention strategies to reduce dementia risk.”

The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B (Liu et al., 2019).