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The recent increase in longitudinal research on marriage in the United States and other modern societies, as exemplified by the work reported in this volume, deserves two cheers. It has provided substantial information about the early years of marriage in a few recent marriage cohorts and has contributed to theoretical refinements and new hypotheses about the sources of marital dysfunction and success. We now know much more than we did just a few years ago about what kinds of marriages tend to fail and what kinds tend to succeed, and we have made at least moderate progress in understanding why.
Since much of the best of the research in this genre is reported in this volume, a balanced evaluation of the book would be a great deal more praise than criticism. However, the authors of the research chapters do an admirable job of pointing out the strengths of their work, thus making my praise of it largely redundant. They do less well in pointing out weaknesses and limitations. Furthermore, there is a good reason why we often use the phrase “constructive criticism” but rarely refer to “constructive praise”; discussion of weaknesses is more likely to contribute to the quality of future work than discussion of strengths.