This marital trajectory is interesting, but it represents a crude average of dif- ferent types of marriages. There is no single mold, however, and one size does not fit all relationships. Realizing this limitation, researchers are seeking to plot more precise trend lines for specific marital situations. Thus far, for example, these studies have shown that in straight couples with a first child, the tran- sition to parenthood hastens the sense of decline in both partners; that cohabitating gay and lesbian couples do not self-report the lowered satisfaction often seen in heterosexual couples (Kurdek, 2008); and that, despite the initial dip, marital satisfaction increases again in middle age for parents whose children grow up, leave home, and empty the nest.
Do specific factors predict future outcomes? To address this question, Benja- min Karney and Thomas Bradbury (1995) reviewed 115 longitudinal studies of more than 45,000 married couples and found only that certain positively valued variables (education, employment, constructive behaviors, similarity in attitudes) are somewhat predictive of positive outcomes. They did find, however, that the steeper the initial decline in satisfaction, the more likely couples are to break up later. This decline is, in part, related to the stress of having and raising children, a stress that is common among newly married couples. Boredom is also predictive of a loss in marital satisfaction. In a longitudinal study of 123 married couples, husbands and wives who felt like they were in a rut at one point in time were significantly less satisfied 9 years later.