Item from the Smart Marriages Archive, reproduced in the Divorce Statistics Collection

February 15, 1999

Love Does Increase Over Time For Romantic Couples, Says Researcher

But Commitment and Satisfaction Need To Be There Too, For It To Last

WASHINGTON - Do intimate partners really love each other more with each
passing year, as suggested by the Hallmark anniversary or
Valentine's Day card? Do they see their love getting better over time? A
new study on premarital relationship development in this month's
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published by the American
Psychological Association explores how love improves over time for
romantic couples if satisfaction and commitment increase too.

''Love does tend to grow, but loving each other may not prevent
break-up,'' according to psychologist Susan Sprecher, Ph.D., of Illinois
University. ''Couples break up because of decreased levels of
satisfaction in the relationship-not because they stop loving each

Dr. Sprecher discovered that satisfaction and commitment were as, or
more, important than love for couples in their desire to stay together by
surveying both partners of 101 heterosexual couples at a Midwestern
university. She examined both their actual and perceived changes in love,
satisfaction and commitment for each other over a four-year period.

By the end of the study, 59 percent of the couples had ended their
relationships. These couples reported decreased levels of satisfaction and
commitment before the relationship actually ended, but said that their
love remained unchanged.

''These results suggest that people do not end their relationship because
of the disappearance of love,'' said Dr. Sprecher, ''but because of a
dissatisfaction or unhappiness that develops, which may cause love to
stop growing.'' She also noted that love might not completely end when
the relationship ends.

Of the 41 couples who remained together, 71 percent had married. The
couples who remained together reported that their love, satisfaction and
commitment increased over time. Furthermore, the largest increase was in
their commitment for one another.

Article: ''I Love You More Today Than Yesterday': Romantic Partners'
Perceptions of Changes in Love and Related Affect Over Time,'' Susan
Sprecher, Ph.D., Illinois State University, Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, Vol. 76, No. 1. (Full Text available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at; abstracted at )

Susan Sprecher, Ph.D., can be reached at (309) 438-8357 or

Marriage a long-term commitment for some

''We're finding a positive response to marriage education,'' he said.
''We're going to see a whole lot more of that in the future.'' - Tom
Strohl, President
Marriage Works



Theresa Smollinger will be the first person to tell you staying married
to the same person for 78 years is no bed of

''We had good times and hard times,'' said Smollinger, 100, who lives
with her husband, Carl, 103, at Country Meadows II
in Bethlehem Township. ''But we stayed

Through the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, 14 presidents, four
children, 11 grandchildren and 15
great-grandchildren, the Smollingers have
honored their vows, passing on a legacy of commitment emulated by
their children.

Two of the Smollingers' children celebrated their golden anniversary.
Another, Carl Jr., passed away in 1994 after 49 years with his wife.

''They worked hard to keep the marriage alive and the family together,''
said daughter Margaret Holzer of Bethlehem, who has been married 52
years to her husband, Joseph. ''I always thought that was important.''

In an era where one out of every two married couples divorces, the
Smollinger family has shown that the ties that bind them are made out of
reinforced steel, not the frilly lace of a paper valentine.

Tom Strohl, president of Marriage Works Learning Center in Allentown,
said couples who stay together typically value the marriage over

''Research shows it's not how much you love each other that predicts the
success of a marriage, but how you handle the problems that come along in
life,'' he said. ''Happily married couples view problems as 'us against
the problem.' They identify themselves as a team.''

Thomas and Mildred Anella said ''I do'' 72 years ago in St. Joseph Roman
Catholic Church in Hazleton.

''We never argued,'' said Mildred Anella, 92, who credits God for their
happy marriage. ''We had a few misunderstandings; he was a little lenient
with the children. But we always talked to each

The Anellas raised four children in their six-bedroom home in Hazleton,
where they have lived during their entire marriage. They have 20
grandchildren, 32 greatgrandchildren and numerous
greatgreat-grandchildren who fill their home with laughter and love,
especially around the holidays when Mildred
Anella bastes a 28-pound turkey.

''My parents were soul mates,'' said Mildred Truitt, the Anellas'
youngest daughter, who lives in Hazleton near her parents. ''All my
father had to do was say, 'Milly' and she was right there or she'd say,
'Tommy' and he was right there. Every Tuesday he'd go to the ice cream
shop and bring her home a pint of ice cream.
Then they'd sit together on the porch and eat it. There was never a mad

The worst thing a couple can do is call each other names, Mildred Anella

''I think that's terrible,'' she said. ''Even if it's made up, it always
sticks in your mind. Then there's hard feelings. You have to think before
you talk.''

And sometimes you have to eat oysters.

Gerry Clause, 92, of Bethlehem remembers the first date she had with her
husband, Ray, 90. He invited her to a dinner of oysters. She didn't like
oysters, but she liked him, so she accepted.

''If I would have said, 'No, I don't want to go for oysters,' he wouldn't
have taken me,'' she said. ''You can eat anything if you have to.''

The couple has been married for 70 years.

''It doesn't seem possible it's been that long,'' Gerry Clause said.
''But it doesn't seem possible we've reached this age. We've had a happy
married life and a good family. The time has gone

Ray Clause offered this advice when asked the secret of a successful
marriage: ''It's better to agree than to disagree,'' he said. ''It might
not always be truthful, but it keeps things on an even keel.''

Of the couples who stay together, only half are happy, Strohl said.

''Everyone says marriage is hard work, but no one tells you what the work
is,'' he said. ''A young couple who's in love and marries within a year
of meeting, can't really know what's facing

That's why Marriage Works seminars have become so popular, Strohl said.
Couples are really interested in improving their relationships, not only
for the children, but for personal satisfaction.

Strohl said over the past few years the divorce rate has slowly declined.

''We're finding a positive response to marriage education,'' he said.
''We're going to see a whole lot more of that in the future.''

The next Marriage Works seminar is Saturday at Asbury United Methodist
Church in South Whitehall Township. The all-day workshop costs $99.

One key ingredient to a successful marriage, Strohl said, is for men to
''accept influence'' from their wives.

''It doesn't mean giving in. It doesn't mean doing whatever your wife
says,'' he said. ''It means that your wife knows you are genuinely
listening, understanding and considering her point of view and what she
may be requesting of you.''

Women need to share and express their feelings to experience intimacy,
Strohl said.

Men need shared activities, he said.

So true, said Grace Musselman, who's been married to her husband, Henry,
for the past 73 years.

''We never had separate ways,'' said Grace Musselman, 95, who lives with
her husband, 96, at Bible Fellowship Home in Nazareth. ''We always stayed
together. If he went somewhere, I went with
him. If I went somewhere, he went with me.''

The Musselmans are world travelers who have visited Europe, Bermuda and
every state in the United States except Nevada.

Grace Musselman said they made a pact when they got married never to go
to bed angry.

Have they?

''Well, we're not perfect,'' she said, adding they still kiss several
times a day.

Lewis Schluicher was perfectly content to remain a bachelor. He had a
good job as an estimator at a department store and on weekends he and
his buddies would travel to Atlantic City or New York.

Then one day he saw her seated in an office as he passed. Her long raven
hair was piled on her head, exposing the curve of her neck.

''Up until that day, I wasn't even concerned about women,'' said
Schluicher, 92. ''I took one look and that was it. She was the most
beautiful girl I'd ever seen.''

Sixty-two years later, he said, she still is.

On Saturday , Lewis and Elizabeth Schluicher of Allentown renewed their
wedding vows at Muhlenberg Hospital Center in celebration of World
Marriage Day today.

''We never had a real fight,'' he said. ''We had arguements, naturally,
but we always agreed in the end.''

In the end, as these couples have demonstrated, love can last and even
flourish providing it's tended with patience and understanding.

Three years ago, Thomas Anella, 96, had a stroke and is confined to bed,
but Mildred Anella is constantly at his side, stroking his head and
reminding him of the life they shared.

''Sometimes he knows me, sometimes he doesn't,'' she said. ''If I hold
his hand, that's the only

''I know he's never going to get better, but I'm thankful for every day
we have together.''

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