Premarital questionnaire can tell couples whether love will last

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The Independent Online

A new "marriage test" claims to be able to predict whether couples are suited to a lasting union from their opinions on a series of simple statements.

A new "marriage test" claims to be able to predict whether couples are suited to a lasting union from their opinions on a series of simple statements.

The test, which compares the answers given by each person, is based on 25 factors that are said to help evaluate the strength of a relationship, the couple's suitability for marriage and the chances of them living happily together.

Using information from 60 years of social science research and more than 100 studies, the test indicates that age, education, economic status, parental approval, ambition, and views on sex are essential in determining whom to marry. Unfortunately for romantics, it also shows that being in love is not enough.

Jeffry Larson, a professor of marriage and family studies at Brigham Young University in Utah, who did the research, said: "Many think that love is enough to overcome any obstacle, but history continues to prove this is simply not true. The time for change is before you say: 'I do.'

"Not every couple in love should get married. While the timing might be right for some, others need more time to mature, some have to work through specific issues and others should never be together."

Professor Larson has also written a book called Should We Stay Together? published by Jossey-Bass. He claims his test can help lower the divorce rate by showing where couples need to strengthen their relationship. In Britain, the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show two-fifths of marriages end in divorce.

The pre-marital test is divided into sections on: individual traits; couple traits; and the importance of the relationship in the couple's lives. "The model serves as a road map, guiding couples towards their final destination - a lasting, happy marriage," Professor Larson said. "Once a couple understands their strengths and weaknesses they can enrich those areas that will lead their relationship to long-term stability," he said. "However, there are instances when the red light indicate marriage at this time, or to this person, may not be the wisest decision."

He said the "red lights" included: either person frequently asking the other: "Are you sure you love me?" - an indication of poor self-esteem; either person repeatedly thinking: "Maybe things will be better after we're married"; or evidence of a relationship dominated by one person.

Professor Larson gives examples of characteristics that indicate trouble in anyone. They include possessiveness, control, rigid beliefs and walking away from disagreements. The traits might suggest more serious underlying problems that make these people difficult, if not dangerous to live with, Professor Larson said. He added: "These people have little insight into their problems" and are "poor marriage choices".

Julia Cole, a spokeswoman for Relate, the British marriage counselling service and author of Make Love Work for You, gave the test a cautious welcome: "A test that can help couples explore their relationship can be very useful but all relationships are dynamic. It must be understood that a test is a snapshot in time."

Ms Cole recommended pre-marital counselling as an alternative that gave couples more time to reflect on their relationship.