Searching for a Two-Factor Model of Marriage Duration: Commentary on Gottman and Levenson



Gottman and Levenson (2002) report a number of post hoc ordinary least squares regressions to “predict” the length of marriage, given that divorce has occurred. We argue that the type of statistical model they use is inappropriate for answering clinically relevant questions about the causes and timing of divorce, and present several reasons why an alternative family of models called duration models would be more appropriate. The distribution of marriage length is not bimodal, as Gottman and Levenson suggest, and their search for a two-factor model for explaining marriage length is misguided. Their regression models omit many variables known to affect marriage length, and instead use variables that were pre-screened for their predictive ability. Their final model is based on data for only 15 cases, including one unusual case that has undue influence on the results. For these and other technical reasons presented in the text, we believe that Gottman and Levenson's results are not replicable, and that they should not be used to guide interventions for couples in clinical settings.