Just as death is ultimately always the result of a heart that stops beating, the death of a marriage is always the result of marital dissatisfaction. The unhappiness could be caused by infidelity, addiction, loss of trust, anger, or a number of other issues, but divorce usually occurs because one or both partners has reached a point where they no longer find any satisfaction in the marriage. Some committed couples, who are dependent on the marital bond, may eventually throw in the towel as a result of dissatisfaction, and yet others do not.
Dominik Schoebi of the Department of Psychology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland theorized that perhaps commitment affected marital persistence even when a couple was dissatisfied. “Dependence and commitment do go hand in hand in the investment model, but whereas dependence is theorized to be a structural property of dyads, commitment is viewed as a psychological state that captures more directly the experience of being in the relationship and being joined to another person within it,” said Schoebi.
The level of commitment within a partnership is suggested to be linked to behaviors that positively maintain the relationship. But it may also be linked to the desire to have the relationship persist. To examine this further, Schoebi examined data from 172 newlyweds over an 11 year period using the Dedication Commitment subscale of the Commitment Inventory. After the first four years of the couples’ marriages, Schoebi found a direct link between commitment and marital satisfaction. Additionally, he found that the couples who divorced after 11 years also reported the sharpest declines in commitment. “This corroborates key predictions in models of interdependence in close relationships, but the most important contribution of this analysis is the finding that only one aspect of commitment—the inclination to maintain the relationship—accounted for variability in reported steps toward dissolution, in actual dissolution, and in the behaviors wives displayed during problem solving, independent of relationship satisfaction.” Schoebi added, “Commitment may stabilize declining intimate partnerships, particularly when it is conceptualized as the inclination to maintain the relationship.”
- Schoebi, D., Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2011, November 21). Stability and Change in the First 10 Years of Marriage: Does Commitment Confer Benefits Beyond the Effects of Satisfaction?. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026290
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.