Friday, November 14, 2008

Four is the new Seven

I read an article this morning and wanted to share it with you. In my case it definitely rings true. I've been married now for 4 and a half years and I do feel you hit a point where you realize things aren't what they were. Especially as the article suggests when you have children, you don't have the time or energy to make an effort to spend time with the one you used to devote all your energy to being with. In my case it's not that I wanted to leave, it's that I wanted to try harder to make time to be together with my husband. I think the issue with other couples is when one is trying all the time and the other doesn't want to try and so the one trying ends up "nagging" them to be with them. I think it's so sad when that happens, and in those cases often divorce becomes the only fair thing for all concerned. I for one could never be in a relationship unless I felt that love existed and that my husband was devoted to me. Without it, you might as well live with a friend, at least you wouldn't have all the arguing that goes along with the hate that abounds when love is gone.

"A professor from Wright State University surveyed husbands and wives once a year over the first decade of their marriages to observe how marital quality changes over time. The researcher, Dr. Larry A. Kurdek, found that couples often began their unions with high levels of marital quality, but that it appeared to decrease twice: once rather steeply over the first four years and again after about seven. (The pattern of change was the same for both husbands and wives.) He also reported that couples with children experienced the steepest declines. The research, in the September issue of the journal Development Psychology, began with a sample of 522 couples. Participants filled out an annual 32-item questionnaire on various aspects of marital quality. Sample questions included these: "How satisfied are you with your marriage?" "How affectionate is your partner?" and "To what extent do you do things together?" The husbands' and wives' responses were compared over time; 93 couples participated for the entire decade. Dr. Kurdek said "At the start of a relationship you can overlook the fact that he throws his socks around or that she leaves the refrigerator open. Over time, a sense of reality sets in. You'd started off making excuses for your partner. Then you don't. It's a natural evolution. "The second dip is more difficult to explain," he said. "It may just be the result of being in something for a long time. You start re-examining. It might just be the natural curiosity -- a sort of wondering about what else is out there." Dr. Kurdek also examined the factors that predict the rate of change. He looked at three major sets of predictors: divorce history, the presence of children and personality variables. He found that couples who have children together, not children from previous marriages, experienced the steepest decline. "There is ample evidence to indicate that having kids changes the overall quality of marriage," Dr. Kurdek said. "For the most part these couples are dealing with young kids, and they require extensive levels of supervision. You're spending less time together as a couple, may not have a lot of time and energy for sexual affection, and there's a lot more to argue about.

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