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Nearly-weds sought for Transition to Marriage study

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Rebecca Cobb, 604.291.3123,

September 13, 2005
September's the start of wedding fair season, when prospective brides crowd into local hotel ballrooms to drool over gowns, rings, bouquets, and other nuptial necessities. For SFU assistant psychology professor Rebecca Cobb, it may be the perfect time to be recruiting nearly-weds for a new marriage study.

Cobb, a clinical psychologist, is looking for 200 local, childless, never-married, heterosexual couples between the ages of 18 and 45 who are within a few months of their wedding date to participate in a three-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded study examining the transition to marriage.

“Most marital research focuses on what drives marriages apart rather than on what keeps them together,” she observes. “We know for example that conflict has a negative impact on marriage, but it is a moderate effect -- it doesn't completely account for marital dissatisfaction or failure.

“I want to look at how processes such as social support, forgiveness, and empathy in communication help to buffer marriages from negative factors, and influence the trajectory of a marriage.”

With Canadian divorce rates hovering at around 40 per cent, and traditional marital therapies benefiting only half the couples who seek them, Cobb wants to examine how to strengthen marriages early on and how to provide better tools for marital success. Cobb hopes to eventually apply her findings to programs aimed at preparing couples for marriage.

The study will involve two SFU lab visits, several on-line questionnaires and brief phone check-ins, for which participants will be paid a total of $425. Interested couples can contact Cobb at 604.268.7155 or


SFU Psychology;
Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council;