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Are unconscious feelings predictors of future marital happiness?

It's safe to say that pretty much every person has at one time thought one thing, yet said another thing in any given situation. This seems to ring especially true when it comes to marriage. Past studies have suggested that spouses often overestimate their chance of marital success. And now, a study out of Florida State University seems to back up these findings.

In the study, researchers asked 135 married couples to complete a questionnaire about how satisfied they are in their marriage. Researchers followed these couples through the first four years of their marriage. This was a way to assess their conscious beliefs about marriage. Then, they also performed specific tests to measure each individual's gut-level feelings about the marriage. The tests included measuring reaction times to certain words after they were shown a photo of their spouse.

The study found that unconscious feelings may be better predictors of future happiness in the marriage, compared to the conscious feelings expressed in the questionnaire.

One psychologist points out that being aware of these underlying feelings may prevent individuals from getting into unhappy marriages in the first place. Similarly, it may help those who are already in a marriage, if they are motivated to fix problems.

While tuning into these gut feelings may help save a marriage, it may also help resolve perpetual problems through divorce. When an individual is finally able to come to terms with their true feelings about their marriage, they may be more willing to take the needed steps toward a happier future.

Source: Quartz, “Your unconscious is a better predictor of marital success than what you say,” Annabel Bligh, Nov. 30, 2013

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