Study examines marital happiness after newlywed years

Many people believe that a decline in marital happiness and satisfaction is almost inevitable. Conventional wisdom tells people that newlyweds start off their marriages with a honeymoon period that ends after some time, leading to greater conflict and sometimes, divorce. When people do decide to divorce, financial issues are often at the forefront. People struggle over asset division, spousal support and other economic issues. Therefore, many people think that couples with lower incomes may be more likely to be unhappy in their marriages.

A team of researchers at the University of Texas and the University of Georgia set out to examine marital satisfaction and happiness over time and how it relates to socioeconomic status. They surveyed 431 couples between 2009 and 2014. All of the couples lived in a lower-income area although their incomes varied. They were also newlyweds when the project began in 2009. The participants were asked to answer an eight-question survey five times during the duration of the project, and the researchers assessed how their answers changed over time.

At the end, researchers found that couples who were more satisfied in their marriage from the earliest days were also more likely to remain happy and less likely to consider divorce. On the other hand, those who were unhappy and doubtful as newlyweds experienced further declines in marital happiness over the following years. Socioeconomic status was not particularly correlated with marital happiness although the study did not examine sudden stresses or the effects of crisis after job loss or other severe circumstances.

People decide to divorce for many reasons, ranging from differences over money and spending to conflicting visions of parenthood, infidelity or addiction. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing spouse to aim for a fair resolution of various issues, including spousal support and property division.

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