People get married with the expectation of happiness ever after, but it doesn’t always work out that way. There may be too many fights, too few good times and the sense that you and your spouse are growing farther apart rather than closer together.. Understanding what professionals have discovered about marital satisfaction may help you focus on how to improve your relationship.
Is There a Honeymoon Effect?
Many people believe that, after the initial joy of getting married, the spark inevitably goes out of love and boredom sets in. An article in the “Journal of Marriage and the Family” disputes that. Researchers found that sometimes stresses originating outside the marriage can seriously affect the relationship, especially when spouses are less adept at problem-solving. Unhappiness isn't necessarily a result of boredom with each other or a sign that your relationship is doomed, but rather may be in reaction to challenges outside your relationship that can be dealt with and addressed. If your mortgage is under water or your father is seriously ill, this can take a toll on your marital satisfaction.
Patterns in Problems Solving
In content couples, researchers have found that both husbands and wives are equally engaged in solving problems, though not necessarily at the same time. Sometimes one partner may need more support, but over time, it balances out. Spouses who provide each other with open encouragement and look together for solutions that work for both of them still may argue, but report that the relationship feels good.
Romantic Love in Long-Term Relationships
In an article in the “Review of General Psychology,” romantic love is distinguished from the exciting, obsessive passionate love of early stages of a relationship. Happily long-married couples often feel a deep romantic attachment for each other. The obsessive element often equated with passion was found, in fact, to reduce marital happiness. Therefore, “quiet” love may be less a sign of boredom and more a sign of comfort and a healthy relationship.
Acts of Kindness
A study published by the National Marriage Project found that happily married couples act with kindness toward each other. Husbands and wives may pamper each other, for example, by serving the other a warm drink. They show affection and forgive instances of inconsideration. Such small acts of kindness may go a long way to making daily life with each other feel special.
- Journal of Marriage and the Family: Patterns of change in marital satisfaction of the newlywed years; Justin A. Lavner, and Thomas N. Bradbury, PhD
- Family Process: More than one way to be happy: A typology of marital happiness; Amy Rauer, PhD and Brenda Volling, PhD
- Review of General Psychology: Does a long-term relationship kill romantic love? Bianca P. Acevedo, PhD and Arthur Aron, PhD
- The National Marriage Project: Give and you shall receive? Generosity, sacrifice and marital quality; Jeffrey Dew, PhD and W. Bradford Wilcox, PhD.
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