The connubial crucible: newlywed years as predictors of marital delight, distress, and divorce

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Feb;80(2):237-52. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.80.2.237.


This study showed that couples' newlywed marriages and changes in their union over the first 2 years foreshadow their long-term marital fate after 13 years. Consistent with the enduring dynamics model, differences in the intensity of newlyweds' romance as well as the extent to which they expressed negative feelings toward each other predicted (a) whether or not they were happy 13 years later (among those who stayed married) and (b) how long their marriage lasted prior to separation (for those who divorced). The results provide little support for the idea that emergence of distress (e.g., increasing negativity) early in marriage leads to marital failure but instead show that disillusionment--as reflected in an abatement of love, a decline in overt affection, a lessening of the conviction that one's spouse is responsive, and an increase in ambivalence--distinguishes couples headed for divorce from those who establish a stable marital bond.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Love
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pennsylvania
  • Social Perception
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Time Factors