I posit that threats or risks associated with marriages can be either (a) internal to the marital relationship and as such are contingent on how individual parties’ function within the marriage or (b) external to the marriage when, in many instances, the factors are not created by the couple. As it relates to individualistic marital influences, I submit that the character and virtues held by both husband and wife are pivotal to marital health and positive outcomes. According to Goddard, Olson, Galovan, Schramm, and Marshall (2016), “Marital virtues and character strengths suggest that personal characteristics such as generosity, gratitude, positivity, forgiveness, and other-centeredness are related to positive relationship outcomes” (p. 425). When husbands and wives display such virtues, it is believed that the “self” becomes decentered and paves the way to overcome inherent attribution biases more effectively, achieved compromise in better understanding each other’s points of view to arrive at common ground (Goodard et al., 2016).
In a study conducted by Goodard et al. (2016), which focused on examining 1,513 respondents in three states and their effects of humility, positivity, and compassion, revealed that “spousal reports of humility and compassion were positively associated with self-reported marital satisfaction among both husbands and wives” (p.433). In other words, one can reasonably conclude that some level of emphasis should be given to character development and formation during premarital and remarital counseling.
In another study conducted by Ledermann, Bodenmann, Rudaz, and Bradbury (2010), 345 couples were examined using the Action Partner Interdependence and Common Fate Model. The authors hypothesized that “relationship stress mediates the association between external stress and marital functioning at the individual level, and that the association between relationship stress and marital quality is partially mediated by communication at the dyadic level” (p. 195). A key finding of the study was that both husbands and wives’ marital communication in conflict and wives’ marital quality “seem to be affected to the same degree by one’s own relationship stress and the partner’s relationship stress”(p.203).
Based on these key findings, one could make a strong argument that counselors and marital therapist should devote some critical attention to: (a) psychoeducation during premarital and remarital counseling and (b) developing strategic therapeutic intervention approaches to help married couples cope with individual stress as well as external stressors. The findings of this study also may a good argument to support the view that interpersonal communication skill development could potentially be a pivotal factor aimed at improving marital satisfaction outcomes.
Goddard, H. W., Olson, J. R., Galovan, A. M., Schramm, D. G. & Marshall, J.
P. (2016). Qualities of character that predict marital well-being. Family Relations, 65(3), 424-438. Retrieved from https://doi:10.1111/fare.12195
Ledermann, T., Bodenmann, G., Rudaz, M., & Bradbury, T. N. (2010).
Stress, communication, and marital quality in couples. Family
Relations, 59(2), 195-206. Retrieved from