Knows when to hold her

Psychology: You know beforehand whether the marriage will be happy

How long will we be happy together? Hardly anyone who is newly married asks this question. On the one hand, because newlyweds naturally assume that the partner offers the best conditions for the marriage to be long and happy - otherwise you probably would not have married them.

On the other hand, because you can't know what life will bring and whether a relationship will last forever. One can not? You can, say psychologists around James McNulty from Florida State University in Tallahassee.

The common (un) happiness after the wedding

Subconsciously, the researchers write in “Science”, everyone knows very well whether their marriage can last. They had accompanied 135 newly married couples for four years. Every six months they recorded their attitudes towards the relationship of both partners.

But there was one special feature - it was recorded once explicitly and once implicitly. That means: The test persons first had to decide whether their relationship was more “good” or more “bad”, more “satisfactory” or more “unsatisfactory”. To do this, they were simply asked.

In a second step, the test subjects were asked to use the computer to decide as quickly as possible, with a series of words presented one after the other, whether it was a positive word, such as "love" or "happiness", or a negative word such as "sadness" or " Anger ”, was.

Psychology: Everyone has a subconscious image of their partner

Here the researchers resorted to a trick: They faded in the photo of the partner on the computer screen in front of the respective word, and only for 300 milliseconds. This is exactly the time it takes for the brain to recognize and process a stimulus.

But the time is too short for it to be consciously registered. In short: the participants did not consciously perceive the photo, but their brains processed it anyway.

In this way, the researchers were able to record the unconscious attitude towards the partner. Because if this was more positive, positive words were recognized more quickly afterwards, if it was more negative, the negative words were recognized more quickly.

Finally, the researchers tried to use the explicit and implicit attitudes at the beginning of the marriage to predict their status after four years, i.e. at the end of the study.

Reliability predicted the state of the relationship

They found the following: The explicit information reflected well the stated satisfaction at the beginning of the relationship, but there was no connection with the satisfaction after four years.

With the implicit attitude, it was exactly the opposite: it had nothing to do with relationship satisfaction shortly after marriage, but it predicted the status very reliably after four years.

Anyone who had negative associations with their partner at the beginning was significantly more dissatisfied with the marriage after four years - regardless of how happy they were when they were first interviewed.

Too bad that the participants weren't aware of any of this. Something in us seems to know what the future of a relationship will be like.

Perhaps the researchers will soon be able to find out how to bring this knowledge into consciousness in good time. Before it is too late and you have said “Yes!”.