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Talking it through

Among the many aspects of communication between couples - from sharing aspirations, hopes and dreams to paying the bills and planning visits to the in-laws - the nature of how we talk to each other rises to particular importance. And while discussions of all kinds shape the interactions with our significant others, factors determining our relative happiness and quite often, the very sustainability of the relationship, can go beyond the success of communication itself:

One of the top reasons couples seek counseling is communication issues, so does better communication predict a more satisfying relationship?

The answer may not be that simple, according to a study by the University of Georgia's psychology department published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

"Although communication and satisfaction were correlated, communication wasn't a good guide for determining partners' satisfaction with their relationships over time," said the study's lead author Justin Lavner, an assistant professor in UGA's clinical psychology program in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Although communication practices could predict satisfaction to some extent for some couples, the lack of a definitive causal relationship calls for additional attention to other factors that influence marital satisfaction, such as environmental stressors, what activities and interactions a couple has, and the personality traits of the individual partners.

While it's perhaps impractical to think about communication of any type between people as a kind of monolithic endeavor, the study hints at the nuances that connect satisfaction and positivity to levels of communications. Good communicaiton is no guarantee of a happy couple, but its absence would seem to create certain negative trends in a marriage that make it unsupportable. As the study indicates, the early years of marriage can be stressful and unpacking some of the components of that stress is instructive. As ever, we should always try a little kindness. More great work from our clinical psych program.

Image: teaser via. Above: Justin Lavner, an assistant professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences psychology department


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