Trait Expressiveness and Marital Satisfaction: The Role of Idealization Processes



This study examined the processes that underlie the association between trait expressiveness and marital satisfaction. A total of 168 newlywed couples participated in a four-wave, 13-year longitudinal study of marriage. Cross-sectional and longitudinal path analyses suggested that expressiveness promotes satisfaction by leading spouses to engage in affectionate behavior and by leading them to idealize their partner. Expressive people formed idealized images of their partner because they brought out the best in their partner's behavior and because they interpreted their partner's behavior in a favorable light. The study extends previous research by showing that the benefits of trait expressiveness extend into the second decade of marriage and by providing a plausible explanation of the connections between trait expressiveness and marital satisfaction.