Commitment processes in accounts of the development of premarital relationships

Catherine A. Surra, Debra K. Hughes

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119 Scopus citations


We examined the subjective processes by which premarital partners (n = 113) become more or less committed to wed over time. Two commitment processes were identified. In relationship-driven commitments, commitment evolved smoothly with few reversals. To explain changes in commitment, partners focused on their interaction and activities with one another and with their joint network and on positive beliefs about the relationship and about network members. Event-driven commitments had more extreme changes in commitment, with sharp downturns alternating with sharp upturns. Partners attributed changes to episodes of self-disclosure and conflict, negative relationship beliefs, separate interaction with nenvork members, and negative network beliefs. On several measures, event-driven partners reported more negative relationship experiences and were less compatible. Yet the two groups did not differ on love or other indicators of involvement. The implications of the two processes for marital decisions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-21
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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