Marital assessments can help couples determine if their marriage will succeed

Tests to Determine the Likelihood of a Successful Marriage

by Samantha Parent Walravens

With divorce rates in the U.S. hovering between 40 and 50 percent, it is no surprise that many young people are wary of tying the knot. While readiness for marriage cannot be scientifically measured, a number of marital assessment tests can determine the likelihood that a couple's union will succeed. These tests are not designed to tell a couple whether they should get married, but to point out differences in expectations, family backgrounds and personality traits that could cause a marriage to fail.

The FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory

The FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study) Pre-Marriage Inventory is a 189-item questionnaire used by couples under the guidance of a trained facilitator. The inventory is designed to engage couples in discussion about topics such as sex, money and gender roles and identify potential problems and red-flag issues, such as alcohol or drug abuse. According to Slate magazine, a research group at Purdue University showed FOCCUS to be 80 percent correct at predicting a married couple’s satisfaction by their five-year anniversary.


The PREPARE/ENRICH Inventory is a test developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota to help couples assess the long-term viability of their marriage. Typically administered by a marriage counselor or pastor, the inventory identifies potential points of conflict such as personality traits, family backgrounds and expectations that may impede a marriage’s success. While the test will not predict marital outcome, it will give couples a clearer picture of problems they face down the road. It also provides couples with exercises to build better relationship skills. There is a version of the test for premarital couples, as well as one for married couples.

The RELATE Inventory

The RELATionship Evaluation Questionnaire (RELATE) is a premarital/marital assessment developed by researchers at the Marriage Study Consortium at Brigham Young University. The 271 questions address issues that impact marital satisfaction and success, including communication, conflict management, family, personality traits, religion and social class. Couples can complete the multiple-choice questionnaire on the Web. After submitting responses, they receive an electronic report that organizes their responses and provides feedback.

Family Education

Family Education is a concise, eight-question marriage compatibility test that focuses on practical issues that have been shown to be predictive of marital success, including the division of household chores, budget, religion and political beliefs. After couples receive their results, they are directed to resources that can help them work through conflict areas.

The Divorce Calculator

The "Divorce Calculator," created by economist Betsey Stevenson, is a web-based tool that enables you to assess your marriage’s chances of failure based on personal demographics. The test is available on the Divorce360 website.

About the Author

Samantha Parent Walravens is a journalist and writer. Her book, "Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood," was chosen by the "New York Times" as the first selection for its Motherlode Book Club, and reached No. 1 on for books in the Motherhood category. She has appeared on the "Today Show," NPR Radio and ABC News Radio.

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