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Does Marital Satisfaction Decline Naturally Over Time?

 Posted on September 30, 2019 in Divorce

Does Marital Satisfaction Decline Naturally Over Time?The reason that a couple decides to divorce is often tied to marital satisfaction – if you are no longer satisfied with your marriage, you are more likely to want to end it. There is less consensus about whether marital satisfaction naturally declines over time or if something needs to create that dissatisfaction. People who believe in a natural decline in marital satisfaction may use terms such as “the honeymoon is over” and “seven-year itch”:

  • After the initial bliss of being married, spouses face adversity for the first time when they settle into their shared life; and
  • There is an idea that people become tired of their relationship with each other after seven years.

A recent study published in the journal “Social Psychology and Personality Science” tried to test whether a decline in marital satisfaction is common. The researchers differentiated their study by including couples of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, believing that the tendency to study white, middle-class couples may have skewed past results. Researchers followed couples for five years after their marriage, checking in each year to ask questions that helped them measure each couple’s level of marital satisfaction. There were several findings:

  1. Initial Satisfaction Set the Tone: As would be expected, most couples started their marriages with a moderate-to-high level of satisfaction. Sixty percent of the couples had a high level of satisfaction, 30 percent had a medium level, and 10 percent had a low level. In subsequent years, the satisfaction level remained fairly stable for couples who started with high and moderate satisfaction. Only those who started their marriages with low satisfaction showed a deep decline in marital satisfaction.
  2. Women Are More Likely to Become Dissatisfied: The category that had the steepest decline in marital satisfaction was women who started their marriage with low satisfaction. By contrast, men who started their marriage with low satisfaction tended to have an increase in marital satisfaction after three years.
  3. Economic Risk Has a Mixed Effect: The researchers looked at couples who were most likely to struggle with socioeconomic issues to see whether they had a lower rate of marital satisfaction. They found that it had little effect on men, but women were more likely to start a marriage with low satisfaction if they faced economic hardship.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Every couple that gets divorced has its own reason, but all must follow the same divorce process and laws. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will guide you through all the necessary steps in getting a divorce. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.


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