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Marriage Research

A university study reveals that not many married couples feel that close


After surveying 732 men and women over two years, researchers at Columbia University discovered that the happiest couples were not necessarily those who reported feeling very close to each other. Rather, those whose "actual" level of closeness was similar to their "ideal" level of closeness were the most satisfied with their relationships, no matter how close they actually were.

The participants were asked questions about their current and ideal relationship closeness, relationship satisfaction, commitment, break-up thoughts and symptoms of depression. 57 percent of the participants reported feeling too much distance between themselves and their partner; 37 percent were content with the level of closeness in their relationships, and 5 percent reported feeling too close.

But regardless of how emotionally close participants said they were with their partners, poorer relationship quality and symptoms of depression were correlated with a higher "closeness discrepancy" — that is, the difference between what they were actually experiencing and what they wanted to experience.

Participants who, over the two-year study period, experienced a greater alignment in actual and ideal closeness also experienced greater relationship satisfaction and mental health quality.

Of interest