Marriage Vows: Level of Conflict in Relationships Stays Constant Through Life

Study shows conflicts in relationships don't change with time.

ByABC News
August 16, 2011, 7:02 PM

Aug. 17, 2011 — -- So you're contemplating walking down the aisle with your dearly beloved, but you're a little concerned about the bickering that seems to haunt your relationship. That will change once you tie the knot, right?

Probably not, according to a new study. In most marriages, the level of conflict remains remarkably steady throughout a relationship. If you fought in the beginning, you will likely fight in the end. But if you didn't fight too much early on, you probably will work out your disagreements peacefully and enjoy a happy relationship as the decades roll by, according to the study.

"When you get into a marriage your conflict levels that you start with are likely going to persist over time," Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of research published in the Journal of Family Issues, said in a telephone interview. Kamp Dush, of Ohio State University, and co-researcher Miles G. Taylor of Florida State University based their conclusions on a huge resource compiled by Penn State called the "Marital Instability Over the Life Course" survey.

That survey includes repeated interviews that started in 1980 with 2,033 married individuals, 55 or younger, over a 20 year period, and it has been used for numerous studies of the sometimes rocky relationship we humans call marriage.

Kamp Dush's research reveals several factors that influence the quality of a relationship.

It helps if couples enter marriage thinking marriage is forever. People who believed that seemed to have the happiest marriages, perhaps because they were more willing to work though their problems in a lifelong effort to fulfill their own expectations.