Couples Who Don't Fight Much Aren't Likely to Start

TUESDAY Aug. 23, 2011 -- The amount of fighting and arguing in your marriage isn't likely to change much over the years, a new study suggests.

Ohio State University researchers looked at data from nearly 1,000 couples who were followed from 1980 to 2000. Based on how often participants said they disagreed with their spouse, the couples were divided into low-, middle- and high-conflict marriages.

There was little change in any of the couples' levels of conflict over the 20 years of the study, which appears online and in a future print edition of the Journal of Family Issues.

The findings may be good news for the 16 percent of couples with low levels of conflict and even the 60 percent with moderate levels of conflict, but not for the 22 percent of couples who fight and argue a lot, the researchers said.

The study found that people in low-conflict marriages were more likely than others to say they shared decision-making with their spouses.

"That's interesting because you might think that making decisions jointly would create more opportunities for conflict, but that's not what we found," study author Claire Kamp Dush, an assistant professor of human development and family science, said in a university news release.

"It may be that if both spouses have a say in decision-making, they are more satisfied with their relationship and are less likely to fight," she suggested.

The study also found that those in low-conflict marriages were more likely to say they believed in traditional, lifelong marriage.

"People who believe marriage should last forever may also believe that fighting is just not worth it. They may be more likely to just let disagreements go," Kamp Dush said.

More information

The U.S. Administration for Children and Families outlines the benefits of a healthy marriage.

Posted: August 2011


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