Is Your Marriage Bliss, or a Miss?
Great Date, Great Mate?
That first meeting
Another big clue: When your beloved tells the story of your
meeting, how much detail does he or she include? This, says Carrere, reflects
the importance your partner places on the relationship. Happy partners remember
minute details of their meeting. For example, she recalls a woman who
remembered that her mate, at their first meeting, kissed her hand. And it's not
just the happily coupled women who remember such romantic details. So do the
When stories of first meetings are barren of details, Carrere
takes it as a bad sign. Some couples are unable to tell what attracted them to
each other initially, another predictor of a flailing partnership.
When the University of Washington team followed 95 newlywed
couples from the Seattle area for seven to nine years and paid heed to what
they said about their spouses and how they referred to them, they could predict
with 87% accuracy which couples would still be married four to six years later.
That report was published in the spring 2000 issue of the Journal of Family
A professional's opinion
Based on all the new science about predicting relationship
success, growing numbers of therapists, including Larson, conduct premarital
counseling and couples counseling. Sometimes, couples who enter this counseling
decide they are not meant for each other. Short-term, it's sad, Larson says,
but may save a lifetime of grief. He recalls a young couple, ages 23 and 24,
who were engaged and consulted him two weeks before the wedding. The man
confessed to Larson, "I don't feel much spark."
During the session, the couple said they focused on the fun
parts of the relationship but avoided talking about serious issues. There was
no real physical attraction on the man's part. When Larson gently pointed out
the red flags, and all the factors that predicted failure, the couple postponed
and finally canceled the wedding.
Recently, Larson received a wedding announcement from the young
man, who had found a more compatible partner. He is hoping to hear from the
man's ex-fiancÃ©e soon.
Kathleen Doheny is a Los Angeles-based health journalist and
regular contributor to WebMD. Her work also appears in the Los Angeles Times,
Shape, Modern Maturity, and other publications.