Lasting couple relationships: Recent research findings

CFCA Paper No. 22 – June 2014


Throughout the 1990s there was an explosion in the volume of research seeking to understand the factors that impacted couple relationships. The identification of risk and protective factors for relationship satisfaction and stability opened up many avenues of research, which continue to be explored.1 Until recently, however, much of the research into lasting relationships came from "snapshot" studies that indicated the range of factors related to stability and satisfaction over relatively short periods. It is reasonable to assume that as time passes and partners and circumstances evolve, the factors contributing to the various aspects of relationships may also change.

The availability of longitudinal data sets stemming from those early studies and the growing interest in longer-term relationships has led to an increased motivation on the part of researchers to undertake analyses of participants in long-term relationships. Along with recent developments in analytic methods these shifts in focus are uncovering just how complex committed couple relationships are (Fincham & Beach, 2010). This paper presents a brief overview of recent findings from studies of couples in long-term relationships, with an eye to those aspects that are of value to practitioners working with couples in either an educative or therapeutic context.


1 The terms "relationship satisfaction", "marital satisfaction", "couple satisfaction" and "marital happiness" are similar constructs and used interchangeably in this paper, depending on the terminology used in the literature.