Study Finds Marrital Bliss is Short-Lived

An article in the New York Times discusses a new study that found the happy buzz from a new marriage fizzles after just three years.
Researchers analyzed responses from two sets of married or cohabitating couples: one group was together for one to three years, the other for four to six years.

While the researchers could not pinpoint a precise turning point - the seven-year itch, as popularized in the play and film about errant husbands, was largely a theory - they found distinct differences between the groups.

"We know the earlier ones are happier," said Prof. Kelly Musick, a University of Southern California sociologist. "The initial boost that marriage seems to provide fades over time."

Research also showed that the median duration of first marriages that end in divorce remains a little more than seven years, which means that those couples will likely spend more than half their married lives less happy than they were when they cut the first slice of wedding cake.

"Some folks start getting less happy at the wedding reception," said Larry Bumpass, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who wrote the study with Professor Musick.
Three years isn't very long and Dr. Ruth warned that a study like this could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. She told the Times, "How dangerous it is to say something like that, From now on, everyone who's getting married will say it will last three years and then I will have to look for someone else."

The PEW study also revealed some interesting trends in attidutes toward marriage, cohabitation, premarital sex and unwed childbearing. As you might expect today's youth are more open to premarital sex and unwed childbearing than past generations. You can read some analysis and findings from the study here.

Posted on July 4, 2007