What makes a successful relationship? Subjective beliefs of older married, divorced and widowed individuals

Margelisch, Katja; Schneewind, Klaus A.; Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina (12 July 2016). What makes a successful relationship? Subjective beliefs of older married, divorced and widowed individuals (Unpublished). In: 24th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development. Vilnius, Litauen. 10.-14.07.2016.

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Beliefs of a successful partnership influence goals, motivations, and behaviour in romantic relationships. Life transitions could have an influence on the personal templates of an ideal partnership. Every critical life event generates a discrepancy between perceptions and individual standards, which drives emotions and cognitions and motivates behaviour designed to reduce or resolve the discrepancy. We examined the differences between the beliefs of a successful relationship that divorced spouses, widowed persons and long-term married couples (N = 800, age 62–91 years) subscribe to, regarding what constitutes a successful marriage, and how their assumptions relate to various subjective dimensions of well-being. Results revealed that the prioritization given to the key elements of a successful relationship (i.e., mutual respect in long-term married couples, successful communication in divorced spouses and love in widowed persons) varied among the groups. Comparing low and high scores for individual well-being resulted in differences between beliefs of a successful partnership held by divorced and widowed persons but not married couples. These findings provide important considerations for counselling persons after the loss of a partner due to separation, divorce or death. An idealized view of the deceased spouse as a soulmate and emphasis on the shared love could be adaptive for widowed persons, whereas the emphasis on successful communication techniques could be an important step in improving cognitive and emotional well-being for divorced persons.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Margelisch, Katja, Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology






Katja Margelisch

Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2016 11:39

Last Modified:

01 May 2024 23:43

Additional Information:

Ursprünglicher Postertitel bei damaliger Abstract Submission: Implicit theories of a successful relationship after transitions in older age – variations by civil-status and well-being





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