Marriage Fail for Lack of Communication Thesis

Pages: 9 (2476 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

Gay/Lesbian Studies - Marriage Issues


Characterization of the issue

Outline of the research area

Outline of the expected research findings

History, Background Information, and Definitions

Background of prior research

Definitions of key concepts and distinctions

Detailed discussion of various issues in divorce and marital unhappiness

Distinction between various marital problems and their respective importance

Identifying the crucial importance of interpersonal communication in marriage

Possible alternate explanations

Specific communication distinctions and their relation to the health of marital and other intimate committed relationships


Summary of research findings

Confirmation of hypothetical expectations

Introduction: Contemporary marriages fail frequently, culminating in divorce; even among many supposedly "successful" marriages, neither partner is emotionally fulfilled by the marriage but the couple remains together for reasons having nothing to do with the partner's respective happiness in marriage. According to a wealth of literature, one of the most determinative single factors in the happiness of married couples is the character and quality of inter-spousal communication.

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This project proposes to consider the validity of that conclusion and to identify the extent to which communication issues can be reliably identified as major causal factors in long-term relationship happiness and marital success.

Thesis on Marriage Fail for Lack of Communication Assignment

Therefore, defining what constitutes happiness in marriage is, even at the outset, much more complex than simply calculating percentages of lifetime partnerships vs. what turn out to be just temporary marriages. Similarly, even the specific term marriage may unnecessarily narrow the issue, because both unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples are capable of establishing relationships that meet all the objective criteria defining a genuinely successful "marriage." The fact that their relationships are not legally recognized or sanctioned is not an appropriate criterion to exclude certain types of unmarried relationships in one study of human pair bonding patterns.

Another significant complication is that divorce rates provide nothing to identify any of the specific issues that eventually evolved into marital (or relationship) problems that undermined the relationship. Therefore, this study also hopes to confirm the importance of communication in marriage by distinguishing specific causes of divorce.

History, Background Information, and Definitions: Historically, the institution of marriage changed substantially in many respects by virtue of the societal changes of industrialization, transportation technology, female suffrage, wartime employment necessities, equal rights initiatives, and ever-changing social mores in society (McGinn, p.40). Until well into the 20th century, the mere necessities of daily adult life all but required marriage partnerships and child rearing without a marital partner unheard of outside of unexpected loss of life.

Likewise, until the last few decades of the century, divorce carried a much heavier social stigma than it does today, except within specific insular communities or sects. Certainly, divorce rates are much higher today than they were fifty years ago, (McGinn, p.41) but too many other societal (among other) factors have changed that also relate to understanding marriage and relationship patterns to assume that the increasing divorce rates necessarily correspond to less marital happiness.

A significant amount of evidence suggests that specific non-communication- related marital problems are frequently implicated as causes of divorce (Rokach, Cohen, & Dreman, pp. 46-7). In that regard, second marriages generally disintegrate because of child raising issues more frequently than first marriages too (Segrin & Taylor, p.77).

Arguments and disagreements over finances as well as over infidelity are frequently cited by troubled and divorced or divorcing couples (McGinn, p.48).

This study aims to confirm that communication issues are crucially important, even when other significant problems exist in marriage. This study defines marriage issues to include committed homosexual pair bonds; it defines happiness separately from the legal outcome (i.e. divorced or not) of long-term committed partnerships. Discussion: In the United States, approximately one half of all legal marriages end in divorce (Cole, p.72; Fillion, p.16) and a significant percentage of many marriages that do not end in divorce would, but for considerations completely unrelated to happiness in marriage; in many cases, people cannot afford to divorce or they are ashamed, or they simply resign themselves to their unhappy relationships for the sake of children (Fillion, p.16).

On the surface, it appears that it might be difficult (even impossible) to distinguish communication-based factors resulting in divorce from the many other significant known causes of marital deterioration, particularly to the extent one relies on short answers when divorced individuals are asked to give reasons for their marital breakups. However, when researchers interviewed subjects more thoroughly, they found that happy couples communicated much differently than couples who eventually divorced or admitted to being unhappy in marriage (Stanley, Markman, & Whitton, p.659) and nontraditional pair bonds (Cloud, p.80).

In fact, substantial evidence has established that many happy long-term bonded and married couples share similar stresses and potential problem areas in their relationships with many unhappy couples. Specifically, most happy couples, unhappy couples, and divorced or divorcing couples all must negotiate childcare issues, financial obstacles, and infidelity concerns. Furthermore, when happy couples argue, they tend to argue about many of the same types of recurrent issues (Stanley, Markman, & Whitton, p.659). On the other hand, happy couples and unhappy or divorced/divorcing couples differed substantially from one another and exhibited very characteristic differences in several fundamental aspects of their communication styles (Rokach, Cohen, & Dreman, pp. 52-54).

Interestingly, unhappy couples specifically blamed their unhappiness or divorce issues on communication-related factors only comparatively rarely. However, when interviewed about their relationships (and observed together over time), it became quite clear that various components of their interpersonal communication styles and patterns may correlate much more closely to marital difficulties overall in comparison to the specific factors on which unhappy and divorced/divorcing couples blamed the state of their relationships (Rokach, Cohen, & Dreman, p. 53; Tyre & Pierce, p.64).

One of the obvious implications is that communication issues are not merely another potential marital problem of comparable significance and determinative effect on long-term marital (and relationship) outcome. Instead, communication issues may be more important to the overall happiness and therefore, long-term viability of marriage and other intimate committed relationships. Another implication is that many other marital (and other relationship) problems blamed by unhappy couples for the state of their relationships may actually be less related to the level of relationship happiness than communication issues. Additionally, the available research obviously suggests that even couples with profound communication problems may not perceive those problems to represent serious potential sources of damage to the relationship, in and of themselves.

Various commentators have suggested that increased rates of both divorce and unhappiness in marriage may be more attributable to the liberalization of social norms and values, but that too is contradicted by the evidence. In that regard, Oklahoma, for one example, recorded the highest divorce rate in the nation in 2002, despite simultaneously boasting the nation's highest rate of church attendance (Tyre & Pierce, p.64).

Researchers have identified and examined different types of conversational patterns and exchanges between happy and unhappy or divorced/divorcing couples. In general, the consensus is that communication problems are not just another contributing factor that contributes to happiness or unhappiness within marriages and other long-term committed intimate relationships. Ultimately, communication issues may be the single most important factors in predicting long-term relationship outcome (i.e. divorce) (Cole, p.72; Fillion, p.17; Stanley, Markman, & Whitton, p.659). That is not to say that biological factors do not play a significant role in determining the way that individuals, as adults, contribute to their intimate relationships or that personal idiosyncrasies and character (moral, psychological, among others) of the individual are irrelevant. To the contrary. In fact, behaviorists and psychologists have long known that the phenomenon of repetition dictates some of the most important aspects of adult life in myriad personal dynamics, but perhaps nowhere more profoundly than in the realm of sexual attraction and romantic love (Fillion, pp.16-17; Segrin & Taylor, pp.59-62).

Therefore, communication patterns and styles are not viewed as isolated behavioral components of current-day marriage and family relationships. The prevailing view in the field of the psychology of human relationships is that many aspects of marital communication are merely manifestations of our choices of partner. As such, they are dictated by principles of psychological repetition. Just as chronic victims of abuse characteristically find themselves drawn to abusive partners and often select partners who display every indication of being abusers, individuals also tend to be drawn to potential marital partners who mirror some elements of family-of-origin interpersonal dynamics, including communication styles (Fillion, pp.16-17).

In that regard, it is important to remember that the process of repetition occurs unconsciously: nobody whose parents provided insufficient communication (or any type of abuse, for that matter) consciously decides to seek out potential life partners who will repeat the same behavior. Furthermore, the repetition compulsion, (as it is called for very good reason), is not limited to bad experiences or to marital matters; in fact, it influences many of what we normally consider to be strictly conscious choices and preferences, particularly when they are positive (Fillion, p.16; Segrin & Taylor, p.62). Admittedly, many of our adult inclinations attributable to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Marriage Fail for Lack of Communication" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Marriage Fail for Lack of Communication.  (2009, January 19).  Retrieved April 6, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Marriage Fail for Lack of Communication."  19 January 2009.  Web.  6 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Marriage Fail for Lack of Communication."  January 19, 2009.  Accessed April 6, 2020.