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Want a long and happy relationship?

Research indicates that marital satisfaction can start to decrease within the first two to three years of marriage.

“There are many factors that can impact on marital satisfaction in these early stages including the birth of a child, changes in employment, sexual problems, financial pressures or other day-to-day hassles,” says clinical psychologist Dr Stan Steindl

“Some couples find it difficult to resolve problems when they arise. Unresolved issues can lead to ongoing conflict in a relationship and a continuing decline in marital satisfaction.”

It is a well-known fact that very low levels of marital satisfaction are linked with increased likelihood for divorce. In Australia , the rate of divorce is rising. The likelihood that any marriage will end in divorce is estimated at 32% (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2001).

But, the outlook is not all doom and gloom. Researchers have also investigated factors that will enhance marital satisfaction and stability. Couples that are satisfied in their relationship usually can:

Engage in positive exchanges with each other regularly;
Effectively communicate with each other;
Solve problems adequately;
Manage their own negative thoughts and emotions; and
Resolve conflict.

These factors have been found to enhance couple satisfaction and lead to a longer marriage.

Here are some tips to help you with these factors in your relationship.

  • Increase positive behaviours.
  • Sit down and develop a list of positive behaviours that you would like to do for one another (e.g. sharing a cuddle or kiss, or asking about their day). Behaviours must be positive, specific, small and not a source of recent conflict.
  • Put the list up in a noticeable place like on the fridge or in the bedroom.
  • Choose a positive behaviour to do for your partner every day.
  • When receiving a positive behaviour, make sure to thank your partner in some way. This will increase the likelihood that your partner will engage in this behaviour again.
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