Can love alone bring dating couples into the realms of married life?
While love can play a role in keeping a relationship glued together, there are other factors that make up a healthy and happy marriage. After all, marriage is no longer just about planning surprises, bringing roses and going on a date as often as you feel like it. It involves piles of laundry to put in the washing machine, loads of dishes to wash, dirty floors to clean and big decisions to make.
So, before saying “I do,” a couple must know whether or not they are compatible enough to live together for the rest of their lives. One way to do this is to assess what type of relationship they do have.
A new study (Ogolsky, B., Surra, C. & Monk, J. , 2015) has found four types of relationship pattern that can determine whether or not couples will end up getting married. Unlike previous research that looked into the individual aspects of a romantic relationship, this study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois took the relationships of their participants as a whole.
376 unmarried couples who are in their mid-20s participated in the nine-month long research. Over the course of the research, the participants assessed how committed they were to tying the knots with their current romantic partner and why they would want to marry. Additionally, the researchers interviewed them about the reasons behind the change-of-mind regarding the commitment to get married in the future. Results showed four categories of relationship.
The “Dramatic Couples”
27-30% Ended Their Relationship During the Study
The characteristics of this group were ups and downs in commitment. These couples often thought about their relationship in negative terms. These couples would often have separate friends and acquaintances that would not interact. Finally, they were often less interdependent than the other couples.
Dramatic couples face a lot of challenges in their relationship that their commitment changes so wildly. This makes them the most vulnerable to breaking up among all types. Lead author Ogolsky said that they would make decisions based on the negative events or discouraging things that are happening in their relationship. Moreover, these couples tend to spend less time together because of their intense desire of hanging on to their individuality, choosing friends and family over their partners.
The “Conflict-Ridden Couples”
14-20% Ended Their Relationship During the Study
As can be guessed from the title, these couples were high in conflict. Like the dramatic couples, the commitment in these couples would also fluctuate, however they did not fluctuate as much.
This type of relationship may be exhausting for both partners. Couples are the either both ends of the spectrum in any given situation. They tend to have drops in their long-term commitment in the middle of a misunderstanding or argument without breaking up. However, they are super-passionate when everything is well between them.
Ogolsky noted (Picklesimer, P., 2016), “These couples operate in a tension between conflict that pushes them apart and passionate attraction that pulls them back together. This kind of love may not be sustainable in the long term—you’d go crazy if you had 30 to 50 years of mind-bending passion.”
He clarified, though, that conflict-driven partners may switch to another type of relationship in the future.
The “Socially-Involved Couples”
7-21% Ended Their Relationship During the Study
These couples were very concerned about their social network and their involvement in this social network. They did not have as many downturns in their commitment to the relationship as the dramatic or conflict couples.
The socially-involved couples feel stability in their relationship. They share the same group of friends and tend to rely on them when it comes to decisions regarding how they committed they are with each other. Having mutual social network is a big deal for this type of couples; it makes them feel closer to each other and get their relationship stronger than ever. The question remains, though: do they want to base their relationship based on other people’s opinions? For some, such may be crossing the line of friendship.
The “Partner-Focused Couples”
12-15% Ended Their Relationship During the Study
These couples were more interdependent and felt that their partner was more important when understanding why they were committed to the relationship. These couples weren’t as socially focused.
In the study, the findings showed that partner-focused relationships have the highest chance of lasting longer having more happy times. The couples in this category very much care about the relationship and the individual who makes it possible for the relationship itself to exist. They are very much involved in each other’s lives and are so involved with each other. Whatever happens in their relationship — whether good or bad — they use this to further strengthen and deepen their commitment. When they have to make choices that could affect their relationship, they spend time examining these choices and are very careful and thoughtful of their decisions.
The limiting factor of the study, is that the researchers were not able to see what happens of the relationship after nine months. Though, dramatic couples are most likely to break up within that time frame.
Ogolsky explained that these categories can help couples be more aware of the different ways of making commitment-related decisions and their effect on the relationship. Will their pattern propel the commitment forward or push the couple further apart from each other? Knowing this can help couples to determine what their relationship pattern is and then make decisions about whether they would like to either work to change that pattern or move on to another relationship.
By Dr. Syras Derksen,
Ogolsky, B. G., Surra, C. A. & Monk, J. K. (2016). Pathways of Commitment to Wed: The Development and Dissolution of Romantic Relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78: 293–310. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12260
Picklesimer, P. (2016, February 9). Daters move toward (or away from) marriage in four different ways—where do you fit?. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science, University of Illinois. Retrieved from http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/daters-move-toward-or-away-marriage-four-different-ways%E2%80%94where-do-you-fit