Contrary to popular belief, marital happiness actually increases over time rather than deteriorates, new research from the US has revealed. 

Paul R. Amato from Pennsylvania State University and James Spencer from Brigham Young University looked at data collected from 1,617 married individuals between the ages of 18 and 55.

Their analysis focused on three different relationship factors, happiness, the level of discord and how often couples did activities together, such as eat together, visit friends or go shopping.

They found that amongst couples who stay married, which was the majority, happiness starts high and remains high. The number of shared activities decline over the first twenty years of marriage but pick up again after that and discord, characterised primarily by arguments, continues to fall year on year.

“Marriages, like wine, do not decline in satisfaction but more often than not improve over the longer term,” explained Sir Paul Coleridge from pro-marriage think-tank, the Marriage Foundation, which reported on the research. “Speak to any married pensioner who is in their fourth, fifth or sixth decade together. They exhibit a deep contentment and understanding of one another, are welded together and fear only separation by death.”

“Similarly, the myth that longer lives are leading to more divorces is just as false; the longer you are together the less likely you are to get divorced,” he said. “The divorce rate after thirty years of marriage is under two per cent.”

“And never let it be forgotten that divorce stats have declined amongst the young for eight consecutive years,” he added. “If you marry today you will probably stay that way for the rest of your life.”

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