Newly Married

Study Background

The following research comes from an analysis of 50,575 couples taking the PREPARE-MC relationship inventory. PREPARE-MC (Marriage with Children) is a premarital relationship profile for those planning to marry with children. It is just one of five related profiles that are used throughout the world (over 2 million couples have taken one of the five profiles to date). There is a profile for premarital couples (with and without children), married couples, older couples, and cohabiting couples (visit Live Innovations for more details).

This immediate study involves couples taking the PREPARE-MC profile for pre-remarital couples creating stepfamilies. We will be post-testing many of our sample to learn how remarital relationships change over time as couples move into stepfamily life. A book describing our findings is being written and should be released next year.

Given their overall satisfaction and consensus scores (“Positive Couple Agreement”) couples were classified as either “happily married” or “unhappily married.” Of our original sample of 50,575 couples there were 19,198 happily married couples and 15,433 unhappily married couples. The middle third of our sample was excluded in this specific analysis because either both people’s marital satisfaction scores were moderate or one partner was “high” and the other “low.” This helps us to have a clearer picture of the differences between happy and unhappy couples.

Update on What Predicts Happiness and Couple Satisfaction:

In a general sense, the qualities of healthy first-marriage relationships are the same as those of healthy remarriages. But what items specifically from the 165-item PREPARE-MC inventory best predicted whether a couple would fall into the “happy, high-satisfaction” remarriage category versus those who tumbled into the “unhappy, low-satisfaction” category?**

The following are the top 10 items that most significantly predicted marital happiness or unhappiness for remarried couples. They are in rank order.

  1. (Spirituality)  We rely on our spiritual beliefs during difficult times.
  2. (Conflict Resolution)  At times I feel some of our differences never get resolved.
  3. (Communication)  My partner often doesn’t understand how I feel.
  4. (Finances)  We sometimes have problems deciding what is most important to spend money on.
  5. (Roles in Marriage)  I am concerned after marriage, I will be doing more than my share of the household tasks.
  6. (Spirituality)  We rely on our spiritual beliefs during difficult times.
  7. (Affection & Sexuality)  My partner sometimes uses or refuses affection unfairly.
  8. (Finances)  We usually agree on how to spend money.
  9. (Affection & Sexuality)  I am completely satisfied with the amount of affection my partner gives me.
  10. (Spirituality)  My partner and I feel closer because of our spiritual beliefs.


Note that 3 of the top 10 items predicting relational happiness (including the number one best predictor) specifically deal with a common spiritual belief system. More research and discussion to come in the months ahead. Watch for our book to be released next year.

**At the 2004 AMFM conference this data was misreported. Further analysis of the data revealed other items, shown above, that showed a greater impact on overall couple happiness and satisfaction.

Copyright ©, Ron L. Deal, David Olson, & Amy Olson, 2004. The above data is part of the national Couples Creating Stepfamilies collaborative research project of Life Innovations and Successful Stepfamilies . All rights reserved.

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