The purpose of this study was to identify the partners' traits and skills that predict relationship satisfaction in committed, premarital relationships in which one person has neurotic traits, as well as to examine the degree of consensus about neuroticism for both individuals. Data from 198 never-married, young adult, premarital couples who had completed the RELATionship Evaluation (RELATE) questionnaire were used in the analyses. Measures of perceived partner traits and skills included levels of empathic communication, clear sending, flooding, kindness, flexibility, criticism, and contempt and defensiveness. Relationship satisfaction as measured by RELATE was the criterion variable. Results showed little agreement between self and partner perceptions of the specific neurotic traits manifested by neurotic individuals; that is, levels of anxiety, depression, anger, and low self-esteem. A negative relationship between partner-rated neurosis and each person's relationship satisfaction, however, was present for both genders. The significant positive predictors of the neurotic female actor's relationship satisfaction were her perceptions of her partner's: 1) empathic communication, 2) flexibility, and 3) clear sending, as well as 4) the length of the relationship. The only significant predictor of the non-neurotic male partner's relationship satisfaction was the neurotic female actor's perception of his empathic communication. The significant predictors of the neurotic male actor's relationship satisfaction were his perceptions of his partner's: 1) criticism (a negative relationship), 2) kindness, 3) flooding (a negative relationship), and 4) empathic communication. The significant predictors of the healthy female partner's relationship satisfaction were the neurotic male actor's perceptions of her: 1) kindness, 2) flexibility, 3) criticism, 4) flooding, and 5) empathic communication, as well as 6) the length of the relationship. These results suggest that certain partner traits and skills may help to increase the relationship satisfaction for both partners in relationships in which one partner possesses neurotic traits. Implications of these results for therapists working with premarital couples in which one partner has neurotic traits are outlined.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



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neuroticism, negative affectivity, RELATE, partner, perceptions, relationship, satisfaction, traits, skills, premarital