Do You Believe in Relationship Magic?
Does fate, luck, or magic affect your relationship or is it your own actions?
Posted September 11, 2020 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
"If you believe in magic, don't bother to choose." —The Lovin' Spoonful
Simply put, internal locus of control is good, whereas an external locus of control is bad, according to Julian B. Rotter, who developed the construct in the 1950s. Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe that they are in control of their lives. They believe that their own actions and decisions influence the outcome and direction of their lives. Their fortune, good or bad, is due to what they did or didn't do. One's own ability, effort, and actions determine what happens. Whereas persons with a strong external locus of control believe that what happens to them is due to outside factors. What happens is largely out of their control. The good that happens to them is due to fate, luck, chance, or magic and they blame others for their misfortune.
Locus of Control and Couple Satisfaction
Numerous studies suggest that locus of control plays a significant role in both couple satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Doherty (1981) found that one form of dissimilarity, the more external wife and more internal husband, was associated with marital dissatisfaction. Myers and Booth (1999) found that the higher a couple's marital locus of control score was, the more positive marital quality they had as well as lower negative marital quality. In addition, they found that spouses with lower levels of marital locus of control were more likely to report the presence of marital strains linked to lower levels of marital quality.
Lee and McKinnish (2019) researched couples over time and found that internal locus of control is linked to marital satisfaction. They also found that one's own locus of control matters more for marital satisfaction than one's spouse’s locus of control. Couples in which the husband is more externally oriented experience declines in marital satisfaction over time compared to more internally oriented husbands. Is there a relationship between locus of control and couple satisfaction?
Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80(1), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0092976
Miller, P. C., Lefcourt, H. M., & Ware, E. E. (1983). The construction and development of the Miller Marital Locus of Control scale. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 15(3), 266–279. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0080735
Doherthy, W J (1981). Locus of control difference and marital dissatisfaction. Journal of Marriage and the family, 43, 369-377.
Myers, S. M, & Booth, A. (1999). Marital strains and marital quality: The role of high and low locus of control. Journal of Marriage and Family, 61, (2), 423-436.
Lee, W. S., & McKinnish, T. (2019). Locus of control and marital satisfaction: Couple perspectives using Australian data. IZA Discussion Papers, No. 12599, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), Bonn.
Bredehoft, D. J., & Clarke, J. I. (2006). Questions about growing up overindulged and adult relationships. Poster presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN. 11.11.06.