Even in Marriage, Keep An Eye on Your Standards



When it comes to seeking a relationship, or maintaining a relationship, having standards is an important thing. If standards are too low, you could find yourself with a person that feels more like an anchor around the ankle than someone that can sweep you off your feet. However, if standards are too high, you could price yourself out of the game and spend Saturday nights on a couch with nothing but a sweaty remote control and lamentable expectations. Ideally, standards should be reasonable, but not overthought.

In a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Florida State University psychology professor James McNulty discovered that relationship standards are still very important in marriage.

To form his conclusions, McNulty accumulated data from 135 newlywed couples. Off the top, he asked each individual participant to fill out a survey in which they’d note how high their standards were; their satisfaction level with their marriage; and the degree of marital problems being had. Beyond that, discussions between the couples were videotaped so that researchers could measure the levels of indirect hostility present in each relationship.

Finally, twice a year, for four years, each couple reported back to researchers about their marital satisfaction.

Results showed that freshly married couples were pleased with their marriages and maintained high standards for them. However, said high standards proved troublesome to couples that didn’t get along, or dished out more indirect hostility. Interestingly, when struggling partners were found to have lower expectations about their marriage, they tended to be happier within them.

Anyone who is, or has been married, certainly knows that relationship dynamics change once aisles are walked and rings are exchanged. Although it’s important to maintain standards in your marriage, the real key to having a successful one is being able to openly communicate and roll with the punches when life gets tough.

United we stand, divided we fall.

-Adam Grant