How Your Memory Affects Whether Or Not You'll Get Married (And How To Improve Your Chances Of Staying Together)

Have a distorted recollection of your relationship? Science says that's a red flag.

How To Improve Memory & Why It Gives You A Better Chance Of Getting Married Getty Images 

Do you tell the story of how you met completely differently? Can you not recall the first few months of your relationship? Does one partner completely forget about a major moment in your relationship? Did you forget about that big fight you had?

According to a study out of the University of Illinois, couples with distorted recollections of their relationship are less likely to marry.

For the study, once a month for nine months researchers asked 232 couples that had recently hit the 2-year mark in their relationship about how they felt about their chances of their relationship leading to marriage. Researchers then places couples into one of three buckets: advancers, who were the most likely to get married, maintainers, couples that hadn't made much forward progression or backward regression; and regressers, the on-and-off couples or those whose relationship seemed to be regressing.


"Couples who had deepened their commitment remembered their relationship history almost perfectly," said Brian G. Ogolsky, a U of I professor of human development and family studies. On the other hand, regressors' recollections made it seem as though their relationships were perfectly fine and even progressing.

"People like to feel that they're making progress as a couple. If they're not — if, in fact, the relationship is in trouble — they may have distorted recollections that help them feel like they're moving forward because they need a psychological justification to stay in the relationship," said Ogolsky. “When a couple is considering making a lifelong commitment, they have a lot at stake. It's important that they have accurate recollections of how their relationship evolved."


RELATED: 5 Ways To Release Painful Relationship Memories

How does one develop distorted recollections? Our memories can be affected by suggestion. We suggest and want to believe that our relationship is doing well, and therefor misremember how things really are so that we avoid constant disappointment. In short, you’re lying to yourself.

Find out how to improve memory — and, most importantly, your relationship.

1. Keep a journal.

Get a journal and write the good and the bad of your relationship on a weekly basis. Over time, you can reference your journal to see if there’s more bad than good. If there are a lot more positive times, it’s a great keepsake to have of all the memories you’ve shared. If there are more bad memories, the writing is on the wall, or at least in the journal.


RELATED: Marrying After 32 Increases Your Chances Of Divorce, Says Study

2. Pay attention to your recollections.

Are you telling yourself that everything is ok, but you’re not feeling happy in your relationship? Do you remember things being bad before, but they are better now? This may be a sign that you’re looking for growth where there isn’t any, and are in denial of your relationship.

3. Have honest conversations with your partner.

Remember that communication is the best way to strengthen your relationship. Talk to your partner about where your relationship is going. Do you have similar recollections of your relationship? Is this relationship working for you? Do you want to progress and be more serious? Be honest with yourself and each other about your needs and wants.


The study suggested that dating couples that have moved toward marriage over the course of their relationship remember accurately what was going on at each stage of their deepening commitment. If you can’t remember accurately, your relationship may not be headed towards marriage.

RELATED: 6 Strange Things That Lead To A Happy Marriage, Says Science

Ravid Yosef is a relationship coach and blogger living whose work revolves around giving her clients a refreshing yet direct point of view about their love lives.