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Tips for a successful marriage: Work on strengths AND weaknesses

Tips for a successful marriage

“Marital relationships are complex,” Alan Acock says. “Paying attention to both strengths and weaknesses in a relationship can have great payoffs 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, emeritus professor, completed a study of 326 married couples, measuring ten strengths and weaknesses.

The 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

Statistical analysis showed distinct groups of couples.

In the best group, both the husband and wife scored best on each of the 10 dimensions 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 poorly on each of the dimensions and they also agreed with each other in their ratings.