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Psychol Sci. 2013 Aug;24(8):1595-601. doi: 10.1177/0956797612474938. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

A brief intervention to promote conflict reappraisal preserves marital quality over time.

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Northwestern University, Department of Psychology, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


Marital quality is a major contributor to happiness and health. Unfortunately, marital quality normatively declines over time. We tested whether a novel 21-min intervention designed to foster the reappraisal of marital conflicts could preserve marital quality in a sample of 120 couples enrolled in an intensive 2-year study. Half of the couples were randomly assigned to receive the reappraisal intervention in Year 2 (following no intervention in Year 1); half were not. Both groups exhibited declines in marital quality over Year 1. This decline continued in Year 2 among couples in the control condition, but it was eliminated among couples in the reappraisal condition. This effect of the reappraisal intervention on marital quality over time was mediated through reductions in conflict-related distress over time. This study illustrates the potential of brief, theory-based, social-psychological interventions to preserve the quality of intimate relationships over time.


emotion regulation; emotional reappraisal; marriage; relationship quality; social-psychological intervention

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