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The Problem is in the Dip

So I have been completing my Psychology course and in the course of my course I have registered for a module on adult development and aging.  Well according to my textbook * marriage is an essential part of adult development.  An interesting discussion I recently read was about marital satisfaction.  What the book says is that after performing extensive studies with many hundreds of married couples covering a range of age groups, marital satisfaction seemed to follow a U-shaped curve.  So imagine a U.  It has a steep decline and then it rises again.  According to this study this is exactly the same shape that satisfaction in marriage takes.

Steep on both sides.

Imagine dividing your married life up into 3 sections.  You get the early years, the middle years and the later years.  In the early years with the arrival of children marital satisfaction declines in a steep way.  Apparently the longer a couple have been married the more unhappy they tend to be.  This is in the first 20 to 24 years of marriage.  During the middle years when you are experiencing your so called mid-life crisis, and your kids are going through the joyous teenage years then marital satisfaction hits rock bottom.  What fantastic timing.  No wonder people like me aren’t that keen on this whole marriage thing.  Well there is hope.  After this rock bottom in marital satisfaction is reached, marital satisfaction begins improving.  In the later years, couples are more likely to describe their marriage as satisfying.  And in fact many older adults who have remained married say that their marriage is better than is had ever been (Papalia, Sterns, Feldman & Camp, 2007).

Now this is the kind of information that would make me take the leap.  I know it sounds a little bit strange that I would decide to get married based on this type of information but knowing that it will be hard in the beginning but it is almost guaranteed to get better later makes me feel much more secure.  This is the type of realistic view I like to enter into things with.  Expecting roses and champagne all the time and cuddles and kisses are unrealistic.  Those are the types of expectations which are the most likely to cause a great deal of unhappiness.  Going in with eyes wide open is the one thing that can ensure I don’t become a divorce statistic.  I would rather have my expectations of hard work and perhaps a decline in satisfaction crushed than more romantic expectations.  When our parents and their parents talk about marriage it’s meant to be this amazing experience that is supposed to complete one.  But apparently it’s not.

Source:

Papalia, D.E, Sterns, H.L, Feldman, R.D & Camp, C.J. (2007). Adult Development and Aging. McGraw-Hill: New York.