Are Low Expectations Key To A Happy Marriage?


A recent study says that having high expectations of marriage can increase the chance of the relationship failing.

The new research, by Florida State University Professor of Psychology Dr. James McNulty, says that some people “demand too much from their marriages because they are requiring that their marriages fulfil needs that they are not capable of achieving.”

Having studied 135 newlywed couples in Tennessee over the course of four years, Dr. McNulty took the individuals’ initial standards for the relationship and any marital problems, before monitoring how this impacted them as a couple for the duration of the study.

Each couple was asked to participate in video-recorded marital discussions throughout the four years, and these were used to analyse the discourse between each married couple, particularly regarding hostility.

The research found that when couples were not meeting the standards set, direct hostility was the best remedy, because “when it comes to verbal problem solving, indirect hostility is more destructive than direct hostility.”

By using direct methods, the study found that couples were able to communicate and deal with the issue and as a result, better meet the standards of their partner, therefore indicating a stronger marriage on the whole.

However, McNulty also highlighted that some people “demand too little from their marriages,” and that “their marriage is a potential source of personal fulfilment that they are not exploiting.”

All in all, the study says that couples need to have realistic ideals about what their relationship can offer them.

In cases where these standards are not met, McNulty highlights that direct hostility is the best way of combating the issue.

The professor said: “Couples need to realise their strengths and weaknesses and calibrate their standards accordingly.”

The study called, ‘Should Spouses Be Demanding Less From Marriage?’ was published in the April issue of ‘Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin’.

Check it out here.