Different types of cognitions in close relationships have been identified. Yet, little is known about the nature and effects of most of them, such as marital standards. In our research project ‘What makes marriages last?’ we applied a German adaptation of the ‘Inventory of Specific Relationship Standards,’ a questionnaire measuring how much sharing, egalitarianism and investment spouses feel they should have and actually experience in their own marriage. We hypothesized that high, i.e., relationship-focused standards, should be associated with dyadic coping processes as well as with marital satisfaction. Thereby, dyadic coping was expected to play a mediating role between standards and marital satisfaction. Based on a sample of 663 German married couples, we found significant correlations between standards, marital satisfaction, and dyadic coping processes. Moreover, supportive behavior in stressful situations had the expected partial mediating effect, which turned out to be slightly different for husbands and wives. Implications for preventive and therapeutic intervention are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.