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What the PAIR Project is About

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The PAIR Project is a long-term study of courtship and marriage that began in 1981 with 168 newlyweds. We collected information on the couples' courtships and early marital experiences, and followed couples across the years to their eventual relationship destinations. (For a basic overview of that aspect of Project, see our biographical sketch).

PAIR Project research shows that elements that lead to divorce reveal themselves during courtship, and that they are strongly evident during the first two years of marriage. Our work also describes the lifestyles couples create early in marriage — including how they divide household work, how involved they are in each other’s leisure, and how affectionate they are. These features of couples’ lifestyles are related to conjugal well-being and the durability of the marriage. The project also highlights the connection between the social and psychological characteristics partners bring to a marriage and the stability of their marriages thirteen years later.

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Why the Project is of Interest

People who watch a man and a woman courting or learn about their marriage almost invariably wonder about the fate that awaits them as a couple. This project, based on one of the few long-term study of married couples that began when they were newlyweds, provides a sophisticated analysis of the circumstances that influence how marriages work themselves out. The project addresses problems and processes common to all courtships and marriages. These are some of the conclusions, many of them never before considered or documented in writings about marriage:

For a more detailed list of our research conclustions, visit our list of Findings. In addition, summaries of PAIR Project research can be found in the Abstracts of our publications.