fairly contributes greatly to a marriage, as does both spouses being
"relationship-aware," communicative, and attentive year after year.
Our satisfaction with our marriage is predicted by how well we
communicate, even before marriage, and by how we structure our
day-to-day lives together after marriage. If interactions are meaningful
and largely positive before marriage, it bodes well for the marriage. If
the male is stubborn, defensive, or overly quiet, it is not a good sign.
Likewise, men dismissing their partner's problems and women over-
reacting to the man's negative feelings were both bad signs. These
findings are not surprising but note this: getting angry (pre-marriage)
was correlated with having early marriage problems but later with
greater marital satisfaction! Perhaps this is evidence that it pays to
express and work on problems--and not deny them. Fine, but now you
have the problem (with no help from research) of deciding what is
enough expressed anger to be a good sign and what is too much so
that it becomes an ominous sign (see chapter 7).
Caution: don't assume that your marriage is doomed because one or two of your partner's
individual characteristics aren't ideal. The predictive power of these studies is low. And,
don't forget: the species, which seems designed to "make love" wherever children are
being created, has survived and thrived in spite of lousy selection procedures. There are
no perfect partners out there. You can forgive a few faults.
In summary, a good marriage partner will probably have a variety
of skills, such as social-communication skills with you and others,
emotional maturity and control of his/her emotions, tolerance and
affection towards you and others, respectful and egalitarian
viewpoints, similar interests and values to yours, ability to be
responsible and earn an adequate steady income, and effective
problem-solving and conflict resolution ability. See chapters 13 and 14
for many of these skills.
Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time,
-Ursula K. LeGuin