Neuroticism, marital interaction, and the trajectory of marital satisfaction

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 May;72(5):1075-92. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.72.5.1075.


Theories of how initially satisfied marriages deteriorate or remain stable over time have been limited by a failure to distinguish between key facets of change. The present study defines the trajectory of marital satisfaction in terms of 2 separate parameters--(a) the initial level of satisfaction and (b) the rate of change in satisfaction over time--and seeks to estimate unique effects on each of these parameters with variables derived from intrapersonal and interpersonal models of marriage. Sixty newlywed couples completed measures of neuroticism, were observed during a marital interaction and provided reports of marital satisfaction every 6 months for 4 years. Neuroticism was associated with initial levels of marital satisfaction but had no additional effects on rates of change. Behavior during marital interaction predicted rates of change in marital satisfaction but was not associated with initial levels.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Neurotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychometrics