Marriages Get Happier Over Time, Study Finds
La Jolla, CA — “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Those were Theodore Roosevelt’s words and although we’re reasonably certain he wasn’t referring to marriage when he said them, elements of it seem to hold true among couples.
A new study published in the book “Social Networks and the Life Course” seems to lend credence to the notion that working hard and sticking with marriage generates positive results. The study found that marital happiness increases the longer couples are married.
Over time, couples who remained married showed a “very modest decline in happiness after about five or 10 years together, with their contentment rising again around the 20th-anniversary mark,” according to a Today report.
Spending decades together resulted in couples spending more time together and fighting less, according to lead author Paul Amato, an emeritus professor of family sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University.
Amato and his co-author looked at information from more than 1,600 married couples who participated in the Marital Instability Over the Life Course study. The study tacked couples for 20 years to monitor happiness levels, amount of time spent together with their spouses, and the level of fights and arguments experienced during their marriages, Today reported.
A key element that differentiated this study from similar studies was splitting couples into two groups: those who were planning to divorce, and those who remained married. Among couples who remained married, happiness dropped a bit in the first years, but then increased after being married 20 years.
Other findings included:
- Men “need” marriage more than women because they don’t have as many close friendships as women, and their health is boosted by marriage.
- The rate of conflicts was highest in the first couople of years of marriage, and declined over time.
What is the takeaway in all of this? Stick with your marriage. Ride out those rough patches, and you likely will make your way to happier times on the horizon.
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