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Understanding and altering the longitudinal course of marriage


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    Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250.

Department of Psychology, University of California—Los Angeles, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563 (


Weak and counterintuitive findings linking couples' interactional processes to marital outcomes have prompted new lines of research on how marriages change. Recent findings reviewed here highlight the value of (a) expanding conceptions of marital interaction by considering how social support and positive affect moderate the effects of problem-solving skills on changes in marital quality; (b) examining partners' individual strengths and vulnerabilities as antecedents of marital aggression and hostile interaction; and (c) recognizing the central role of chronic and acute circumstances in governing fluctuations in spouses' judgments of marital quality. We outline implications of these findings for ongoing efforts to prevent adverse marital outcomes, and for recent federal initiatives to strengthen healthy marriages among people with low incomes.