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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Marriage: High road could be rocky

1946 Newlyweds  (Photo by Conrad Poirier)
Sometimes it’s better to be pleasantly surprised rather than bitterly disappointed.

Having high standards for a marriage may be good, up to a point.  Psychology professor James McNulty warns that such expectations “could either improve or reduce marital
satisfaction over time, depending on the levels of indirect hostility in a relationship.”

McNulty reports in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that disappointment arising from unmet standards can “harm relationships.”  Hostility, either direct or indirect, can then result.

Direct hostility, the type that demands a partner to change, “can have important benefits to some couples.”  Indirect hostility, the type that results in “stubbornness, procrastination and sullen behavior,” can often erode harmony.

McNulty also cautions against unrealistic demands.  When people expect marriage to fulfill needs beyond the “time, energy, effort or skills” involved, trouble ensues.  However, some spouses actually “demand too little from their marriages.”  In these cases, there may be potential sources “of personal fulfillment that they are not exploiting.”

The “Goldilocks” principle seems to apply regarding marital expectations:  not too much and not too little, depending upon the resources (physical, emotional, spiritual, economic, etc.) of each particular union.


Copyright March 19, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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