The association between reasons for commitment and the development and outcome of marital relationships

Catherine A. Surra, Peggy Arizzi, Linda A. Asmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This study examined the relationship between reasons given for changes in commitment, on the one hand, and the development of commitment and later marital satisfaction, on the other. Forty-one newlywed couples were interviewed to obtain graphs of changes in commitment during courtship and reasons for the changes, which were coded into fourteen categories. Four years later thirty-nine of the original participants completed a marital happiness questionnaire. Reasons involving intrapersonal norms were related to commitments formed rapidly. Reasons that concerned interaction with and attributions about the network were associated with dramatic changes in commitment, accelerated commitments, and lower marital satisfaction. Reasons involving alternative dating partners were connected to moderate changes in commitment; long, rocky courtships; and lower marital satisfaction. The association between dyadic reasons and the development of commitment was weak, although reasons that concerned agreement on stage of involvement, disclosure, and behavioural inter-dependence were related to marital happiness. We discuss two types of commitment processes, event-driven and relationship-driven, and their implications for marital outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-63
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The association between reasons for commitment and the development and outcome of marital relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this