Similarities do not mean happy marriage

Neither personality similarities nor differences have much of a role to play in a successful long-lasting marriage, according to a new study.

The study, which included couples who had been married for at least 40 years, suggest the personality matching carried out by dating websites may make little difference in a relationship’s ultimate success, the researchers say.

“One of my very speculative suspicions is that this need for a relationship is so strong that it overcomes differences,” study researcher Frederick Coolidge told LiveScience.

Coolidge and colleagues had 32 couples take surveys to assess their personality and how satisfied they were in their marriages. Men and women were asked to evaluate their own personality as well as their perceptions of their partners’ personalities.

The couples completed the surveys in separate rooms and were not allowed to see their partners’ responses.

“We didn’t want to create any divorces,” Coolidge said.

The study found that both men and women were pretty happy in their marriages, but on average, the women reported being slightly happier than the men. Neither the length of the marriage nor personality traits (self-identified and those perceived by the spouse) were associated with the couples’ level of marital satisfaction.

This may be because, over the long haul, “different personalities may provide couples with complementary resources for dealing with life”s challenges,” Levenson told LiveScience.

The study was presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.