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14 February 2013

Teens with happy parents have happy marriages

People who experience positive family relationships as teenagers may be more likely to have a better marriage as adults, according to a new study.

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People who experience positive family relationships as teenagers may be more likely to have a better marriage as adults, according to a new study.

Researchers found warm, supportive family interactions and effective communication in adolescence may be connected to relationships later in life.

They noted the effects of early positive family engagement, such as greater relationship satisfaction and reduced hostility, extends to teenagers' future spouses as well.

How the study was done

For the study, released online Jan. 10 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Psychological Science, researchers led by Robert Ackerman, from the University of Texas at Dallas, analysed the family interactions of 7th graders. Five signs of positive engagement were used to assess participants' family life: listener responsiveness, assertiveness, prosocial behavior, effective communication, and warmth-support.

The young people who had the most positive interactions in their families had the most positive engagement in their marriages 17 years later, the investigators found. They also were less hostile toward their spouse. 

Spouses were more positively engaged

The researchers noted the participants' spouses were also more positively engaged in their marriage and expressed less hostile behaviour.

"Perhaps one of the most striking results from this work was that the quality of one marital partner's family climate during adolescence was associated with marital outcomes for the other partner," the researchers wrote.

In a news release from the Association for Psychological Science, the study authors noted that it's possible that teens who experienced positive family interaction may seek out partners with similar behaviours in relationships.

More information

The US Department of Health and Human Services has more about marriage quality.

 
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