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The Myth of Happily Ever After

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!

Read more: Dating, Love, Relationships

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Diana Vilibert

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. You can be blog-friends with her at dianavilibert.com, or tweet her at @dianavilibert.

60 comments

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9:23AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

THE KEY IS IN... NEVER LOSING THE FRESHNESS OF THE FIRST TIME!

7:37AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

make it through the hard times, and get to the easier ones :)

6:55AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

I been with my husband sins I was 18 :) (turning 30 this year!) and I still get butterflies when I see him, and I feel like I am falling love with him over and over again. I do little things and sometimes big things to show that I appreciate him and I tell him that I love him all the time.. Ofc we have our differences but we just say well that sometimes we just have to agree to disagree.. And we keep the past in the past.. no point in bringing up old mistakes. And we can talk about things that bugs us without the other one being angry.. like me leaving my socks all over the house or him never hanging up his coat :) Nobody's perfect :)

4:44AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Thanks for the article

3:10AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

It depends on respect and communication

5:10PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

7:50PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Ok folks...past is past...new year is around the corner. Let's reflect, learn & unlearn from our past, including our love life, and move on...

A New Year Resolution Guide. Download now:
http://www.totalwellbeingsolutions.com/

11:25AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

interesting

2:32AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

I'm pretty sure there is a chemical that we produce for those first years so it isn't like we are "oops, I'm bored with this". We really need to learn about our selves so we can make better decisions in life.

12:32AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

It doesn't matter how long you have been married. Don't stop dating! Or being giddy again by pawing on each other occasionally. The other thing, ensure that your spouse isn't just your lover, but your best friend as well. This way, when the honeymoon just isn't exciting anymore, you still have your best friend, which will remind you why you ended up falling for that person in the first place. Voila. A new honeymoon, even if it doesn't last 2 years again.

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