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National Survey of Marital Strengths.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Olson, David H.
Olson-Sigg, Amy K.
Technical Report
Page Count: 

This National Survey is one of the first major studies on the strengths of marriage versus the exclusive focus on problems. Using a sample of 21,501 married couples (both husbands and wives) from all 50 states, this survey used a comprehensive marital assessment tool called ENRICH which focuses on 20 significant areas and contains 195 questions. This survey identified the Top Ten Strengths of Happy Marriages and discovered some new areas not found important in past studies of marriage. Using these top ten strengths, it is possible to discriminate between happy and unhappy marriages with 93% accuracy. The top five categories in rank order of importance were communication, couple flexibility, couple closeness, personality issues and conflict resolution. While most past studies have identified the importance of communication and conflict resolution, the importance of couple flexibility and couple closeness demonstrate their growing importance in our high stress society. Another important discovery was the growing importance of an equal role sharing marriage. Most of the couples (81%) where both spouses perceived the relationship as equalitarian were happily married, while most of the couples (82%) where both spouses perceived their relationship as traditional were mainly unhappy. This national survey also identified the Top Ten Issues for Married Couples. Out of the 10 items, 3 items dealt with Conflict Resolution, 2 items from Couple Flexibility, 2 items from Personality Issues and one item from Communication, Leisure and Parenting. In summary, the primary goal of this national survey is to encourage couples and professionals to focus more on the strengths of marriage rather than only problems. (Author abstract)

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