We all fear the end of the honeymoon stage—that blissful period when you can’t get enough of each other, fights are nonexistent, and passion runs rampant. And while we’d like to think this idyllic time continues indefinitely, one new study from New York University just delivered a dose of reality.
Researchers discovered that the honeymoon phase wears off after 30 months. An initially high level of marital satisfaction steadily decreased after that period of time for most couples, the study found.
The most disappointing find? Fourteen percent of men reported being “extremely unhappy” in their marriages after 30 months, while 10 percent of women said the same. Additionally, a supermajority of couples reported a gradual decline in satisfaction: 86 percent of women reported their happiness slowly decreased, and 78 percent of men said their satisfaction remained steady.
If you’re a newlywed (or about to be), there’s no need to panic. In fact, the study found that relationship unhappiness was linked to certain risk factors, according to Michael F. Lorber, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher. “Men who were depressed or aggressive, or whose fiancées were more depressed or less satisfied with the relationship were more likely to report the most extreme drop in marital happiness,” Lorber told The Huffington Post. Researchers noticed the same effect in women.
The can't-keep-your-hands-off-each-other feelings may fade—no matter your circumstances. But many married couples report entering into a different type of love, which is just as deep (if not deeper) than that initial fire.
And if you notice rockiness in the beginning, be open and honest about the smaller issues so that they don't build on one another. "We can make some predictions about which highly satisfied newlyweds or soon-to-be newlyweds may not stay that way, and then try to help those people," Lorber said. "It might be easier to do some relatively 'light touch' interventions early on than to do intensive marital therapy after things have already soured."
What do you think about this news? Have you experienced the end of the "honeymoon stage" in your own relationships? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!