Marriage Lab

As a clinical psychologist, I study marriage and intimate relationships because it is arguably the most central force in our lives. People in strong relationships want to maintain those relationships and to continue to love and be loved by their partners. People who are in troubled relationships want to fix them or find another relationship that works better. People who are not in a relationship either pine for a past one or yearn for a new one. Of course there are exceptions to these simple statements, but for the vast majority of people the pursuit, maintenance, or mourning of an intimate relationship is a fundamental part of their lives.

If marriage and other intimate relationships are so important and so central to our lives, why are we so bad at them? Why do so many end in divorce? Why do so many of the couples who stay become distressed? How can we help couples who are struggling?

These are the questions I try to answer using the scientific method. Even a cursory review of popular books, magazines and other media reveals a cacophonous mix of relationship advice. Much of it makes sense and sounds good, but falls apart when it is evaluated scientifically.

The good news is that relationship scientists have learned a great deal that helps us answer these questions and, as a professor, I am eager to share what I have learned thus far. However, as always in science, each answer raises more questions, so the research on intimate relationships continues.