Relationship Effort, Satisfaction, and Stability: Differences Across Union Type


relationship satisfaction, relationship stability, marriage, family


Relationship satisfaction and stability are two commonly studied outcomes in marriage and family research. Majority of studies address socio demographic variability and differences across union type in these outcomes. We extend this literature by addressing how the amount of effort one puts into their relationship is associated with stability and satisfaction. Specifically, we focus on how effort impacts these measures of quality in four union types: premarital cohabitation, first marriage, post‐divorce cohabitation, and second marriage following divorce. Furthermore, we make union type comparisons in the strength of effort's association with satisfaction and stability. Using data from 8,006 respondents in the Relationship Evaluation Survey, our results show that effort was strongly and positively associated with satisfaction and stability in all four unions. Although effort is more strongly associated with satisfaction in first marriage than cohabiting relationships, no union type differences in the role of effort on stability were observed. Clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Shafer, K., Jensen, T.M.*, & Larson, J.H. (2014). “Relationship Effort, Satisfaction, and Stability across Union Type.” Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 40(2): 212-232.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Marital and Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor