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Tips for a successful marriage: Work on strengths AND weaknesses

Tips for a successful marriage

“Marital relationships are complex,” says Alan Acock, OSU’s Knudson Chair for Family Policy and Research and University Distinguished Professor of Family Science. “Paying attention to both strengths and weaknesses in a relationship can have great pay offs for the whole family.” Publications abound that tell you the best way to have the ideal marriage – reduce conflict, balance the childcare workload, or some other single thing that can be improved.

Alan and Randal Day, recently completed a study of 326 married couples, measuring ten strengths and weaknesses. Their conclusion? Couples need to work on all 10 dimensions simultaneously. It is not enough to focus on just one, two, or a few of them.


  • Forgiveness
  • Commitment
  • Attachment
  • Sacrifice
  • Power balance–decision making


  • Destructive communication
  • Avoidant behavior
  • Relational aggression
  • Marital conflict
  • Disrespect

Distinct groups of couples

A statistical analysis showed three distinct groups of couples. In the best group, both the husband and wife scored best on each of the 10 processes and they agreed with each other in their ratings. Couples in this group had enormous payoffs for other aspects of family life whether considering the well-being of the husband and wife, their performance as parents, or the well-being of their children. In the most challenged group, both the husband and wife scored worse on each of the processes and they also agreed with each other on this.