Greg and Megan are “naturals.” They enjoy the same things and can even finish each other’s sentences. Katie and Walt are anything but naturals. Their interests lie at different ends of the spectrum. With little in common, they continually must adapt to each other and struggle to find ways to connect. Who do you identify with?

Most couples must work to find similar interest. Companionship doesn’t happen automatically, even for the so-called naturals. So how can you keep your marriage growing even if you aren’t a “natural”?

Marriage researchers Evelyn and Paul Mischetta decided to find out. They researched healthy marriages and published their results in their book, Caring Couples. What do healthy marriages look like? Here are some of the results of that study.

The Mischettas found two distinct groups of couples.

  • The first group they called the “naturals.” These couples were equipped for intimacy in marriage because they, like Greg and Megan, had very positive childhoods. They grew up in families with positive role models and with a spirit of cooperation.
  • The second group, more like Katie and Walt, were the “learners.”If you’re in this group, you’re in the majority. Learners have to work harder. They had less favorable childhoods and less favorable life experiences before marriage.

Now get this — the learners achieved the same high levels of marital growth as the naturals, but they used every means possible to grow in a positive way. Like the naturals, their marriages remained vibrant, alive, and exciting.

But it took hard work for both the learners and the naturals. Good marriages don’t just happen. The Mischettas emphasize that too many couples have a survival mentality which is characterized by an attitude of self-interest, self-protection, and self-expression.

So the challenge to couples who want to make their marriages succeed is to set aside that survival mentality and develop a couple mentality. Think about what is best for the couple — not the individual. You can be a winner in your marriage.

Related Topics:

Marriage Little Things Add Up

We’re Different

Written by Claudia and David Arp, MSW

David and Claudia Arp, MSW, founders of Marriage Alive Seminars, are marriage educators, columnists and authors of numerous books and small group video curriculum including “The Second Half of Marriage and 10 Great Dates” (Zondervan). You can visit their website: