The Myth of Happily Ever After
It’s no surprise to anyone that the honeymoon period can’t last forever…but does that feeling of wedded bliss really only last two years?
That may be the sad truth, the New York Times recently reported. The paper cites a study of 1,761 couples who got married and stayed married over the course of 15 years. It turns out the honeymoon phase is a real thing—couples get a big happiness boost when they first get married. But it doesn’t last too long: just two years after the big day, happiness levels return to pre-wedding levels.
Don’t worry, there’s a silver lining…at least for those couples who stay together after the honeymoon period ends. Just a mere 18-20 years later—yep, when the kids are out or almost out of the house—it’s back to bliss.
But what about those in-between years? What happens to the thrill? Turns out, we’re pretty much just tired of each other. Or, as the New York Times more eloquently puts it, “Familiarity may or may not breed contempt; but research suggests that it breeds indifference.”
So the world is all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns when our partner is shiny and brand new, when there’s a lot to discover about the mysterious creature you’ve snagged. And then again two decades later, once the business of raising children is done and life slows down to a more manageable pace, letting you discover your partner once again.
That’s kind of romantic…as long as you make it to year 20. If new-ness is what brings those feelings of happy-go-lucky love to a relationship, how do you get it with the same old person? Take a walk on the wild side, research suggests. In an experiment done by Arthur Aron, couples were given a list of activities to do together, one activity a week. Some couples were given “pleasant” activities like seeing friends or cooking together, while others were asked to engage in “exciting” actives like skiing or going to a concert. Ten weeks later, the couples who participated in the “exciting” activities reported greater relationship satisfaction than the couples who participated in “pleasant” activities?
The takeaway? Don’t panic if the thrill is gone—it’s normal! Instead, go chase the thrill yourself. Invite your partner to take a dance class, go snowboarding together, make a date to go bungee jumping, throw snakes at each other (just kidding, don’t do that)…the possibilities are endless.
Do you agree that passion starts fading after two years of marriage? Does it come back? What do YOU do to keep that newlywed bliss in your relationship? Tell us in the comments!