6 Characteristics of the Marriage-Ready Couple

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If you were asked “how long should a couple date before getting married?” what would you say?  10 months?  2 years?  A week?  The truth is there is no magic number of months or years that make a couple ready for marriage.  Six months may be more than enough time for one couple, but another couple may need six years.

Research shows that couples who are always moving forward in their relationship do experience greater stability and satisfaction than those who hold back from taking important steps.  What really matters is the development of certain skills and characteristics that mature a couple enough to take the next step down the aisle.  So what are these characteristics and how do you know if you are ready?

There is no one study that answers these questions, but a large collection of research highlights some of the most important characteristics of couples who will have the best chance for successfully making the transition into marriage.

Coordinating Life Plans

According to Shmuel Shulman at the Bar Ilan University in Israel1, one of the main events that moves ... Read more »

Creating Couple Safety

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Note: This is a guest post from Dr. Jonathan Sandberg, a professor in FHSS’s School of Family Life. Professor Sandberg is involved in the Marriage and Family Therapy Programs at BYU, a Certified Emotionally Focused Supervisor with the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, and a licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah.


I once heard from a young person something very insightful, a comment like this: “I guess I am just in love with the feeling of being in love.” Yes, feeling deep love from and for another person is a sublime experience. But, it is about the deep, serene, and settled sense of safety and security that comes with mature romantic love I write about today. That type of safety within a couple relationship has a name; it is called “attachment security”. The concept of secure or insecure attachment actually has its roots in parent-child research. John Bowlby, and later others, proposed that when a child feels a parent is accessible (“I can find you”) and responsive (“you reach out to me and comfort me when I call”), a ... Read more »

4 Ways to Let Go of “Me” and What They Mean for the “We”

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True or False: We can and should try to change our romantic partners.

Answer: False.  But that doesn’t mean our partner’s can’t or shouldn’t try to change themselves.  We can be a major influence for those changes we hope to see. Sometimes we even find ourselves changing because of our partner.  

When “me” becomes a “we,” there are many opportunities for change.  Sometimes those changes happen in the relationship as a whole, like making a single Facebook account for a couple.  But the most common changes happen at an individual level.  When two different individuals begin spending so much time together, it is only a matter of time before those two individuals become more like their partner.

In a recent study, Kevin McIntyre at Trinity University found that allowing ourselves to become more like our partner can play an important role in relationships. However, not all changes have a positive influence.  The study revealed four main types of what are called “self-changes,” or how one partner changes him or herself to become more like a partner, and only half of ... Read more »

The Paradox of Choice

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My husband and I make decisions in very different ways. For me, it’s most important that I find the best possible option out there for me. Take our careers. During the last year of my undergrad I was constantly researching possibilities for my future. I contacted schools, talked to my professors, and constantly researched different avenues to find what would make me the most happy. I was so worried that deciding on one career type would mean that I would later find something better for me that I was missing out on. Even now as I work on my masters I can’t stop thinking about what the best PhD program will be for me.

My husband, on the other hand, had an idea of what he wanted to do and he went with it. He decided on a future career that would make him happy and found the best possible programs for achieving that end goal. His goals for his future have changed only slightly in the five years I’ve known him.  

According to psychologist Herbert A. Simon, my ... Read more »

Give Me Some Sugar, Sweetie.

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We’ve all seen this commercial: someone sees an attractive person coming their way, they smell their breath, realize it is horrible, and pop in a nice stick of Spearmint gum in the nick of time.  The attractive person approaches and our “personal space” is free for the kiss.  Spearmint has saved the day once again.

So can gum really improve your chances of meeting someone?  While having good breath certainly can’t harm your chances, perhaps taste has more power than we realize.

According to a recent study by Dongning Ren and a team of scholars at Purdue University, combining taste with romantic interest may be the secret to unlocking our “personal space” problem.

Sweet Tasting Love

Ren and her team wanted to know just what happened when people had something sweet to taste when thinking about love.  Does chewing gum really help us resize our personal space?  

Wanting love

When drinking or eating something sweet, it appears that we tend to think favorably about being in love.  Those in the study who had something sweet were more likely to express interest in starting a ... Read more »