This paper reviews recent research findings into couples in long-term relationships (married and de facto) that provide insight into the couple relationship over time. This paper addresses aspects of couple relationships such as commitment, personality traits, transitioning to parenthood, health, and relationship satisfaction. The aim of this paper is to inform practitioners and other professionals working with couples in an educative or therapeutic context.
- Recent increases in the availability of longitudinal data, combined with developments in analytical techniques and an upturn in interest in learning from longer-lasting couple relationships, have enabled researchers to gain a deeper understanding into the complexities of couple relationships.
- Factors underlying the complexity of couple relationships as they evolve over extended periods of time are likely to respond to prevention and early intervention strategies targeted at couples in the early stages of their relationships.
- An active engagement in behaviours that are supportive of the relationship is needed to maintain relationship stability - simply wanting the relationship to continue is not enough.
- Similarities between partners, and viewing partners through rose-coloured glasses, appears to support marital satisfaction, although there are some differences in this between men and women.
- Relationship quality has an impact on health in later life therefore investing in the quality of the couple relationship can be of benefit to health promotion and intervention strategies.
- Studies of newlyweds cannot be used to understand couples in longer-term relationships as the salience of some personality characteristics and behaviours appears to alter over time.