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Marriage Math

Predicting Successful Marriages


Dr. John Gottman, Dr. James Murray, and other mathematicians at the University of Washington in Seattle, have developed a mathematical model that predicts which marriages will last. The model can also assist couples in identifying problems in their relationship so that if needed, more effective therapy can be planned.

In predicting marriages that will end in divorce, their mathematical equation has been 94 percent accurate. The scoring added or subtracted points for verbal and facial expressions in twenty categories such as humor, contempt, anger, and affection. The model also uses questionnaires and physiological readings such as pulse rates.

The couples' interactions were scored by adding or subtracting points for verbal and facial expressions in 20 categories, including anger, affection, humor and contempt.

The ten year study included more than 700 couples. Couples with the best chance for long lasting marriages are couples who have a sense of humor, are affectionate, able to lovingly tease, and take interest in one another.

Although Gottman doesn't believe that math alone is the solution for troubled marriages, he does think that the mathematical model could help couples strengthen their marriages by knowing which areas of their communication they need to work on and change.

The mathematical model is not yet available for couples to use on their own.

John Gottman is a psychologist and is also the executive director of the Gottman Institute.

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