Why is the first decade of a marriage so important? What's so special about the 10-year mark?
Big studies have a way of providing insight about broad trends that we just can’t see from close up...
It may take years to collect the information, but once it’s in front of us, the findings can help us understand major concepts and long-term trends that we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
When it comes to studies about marriage, it also offers a look at marriages in a broad way – not just the subjective view we get of our own relationships.
One such study, conducted by Brigham Young University, examined 2000 married women over the course of 35 years, and the results provide a lesson we can all take to heart!
In the study, researchers found that at the 10-year mark of a marriage, problems tend to be at their worst – even when the couple sees a happy marriage as a product of actual efforts to keep it healthy.
A decade into marriage, for many couples, is when things start to settle a bit. By that point, there might be a couple of kids to raise, some stability achieved, and the “honeymoon phase” is long over…
It’s easy to understand why this might lead to problems for many couples. It’s the closing portion of the first real “phase” of the marriage. They met, the fell in love, they got married, the started a family…
By this point, routines have likely been established, and that can mean resentment for one member of the marriage who feels overburdened by certain duties.
Many of the women in the studied cited an undue share of household responsibilities as a source of their frustrations.
It’s also worth noting that, around 10 years into a marriage, couples might also be facing some of the most difficult and exhausting chapters of parenthood.
The kids are at their most energetic and most troublesome – and parents might feel like they’re running ragged just to keep up.
This hardly leaves time to focus on the quality of the relationship.
Of course, not every marriage will experience the height of its difficulties at exactly a decade (there are always exceptions), but this study shows a trend that, once we start to examine why it happens, is pretty easy to understand.
Fortunately, the study also uncovered some good news:
After another 5 years – that is, 15 years into marriage – reports of dissatisfaction begin to decline sharply, and continue to decline steadily over the next 20 years.
That means that couples who can make it over the 10-year hump tend to get happier as time goes on.
Not only can we see that experiencing problems about a decade into the marriage is completely normal, there’s also evidence to support that it’s a hurdle couples can jump if they’re willing to stick it out.
The best defense against this 10-year problem zone is a strong marriage that you work to maintain and grow every single day.
Programs like the StrongMarriageNow System, and even the advice and information we offer here on this blog, will help prepare you if you haven’t hit that 10–year point.
...Or if you have, the information can help you get your marriage on track for a happy future.
The major lessons are:
• spending quality time together
• and perhaps most importantly for those struggling after a decade of marriage – lighten up!
Seriously, learning to laugh at yourself, not taking things so personally or seriously, and focusing on positives can make such a major difference in how you interact with each other and the world around you.
If you can learn to roll with the punches, lean on each other for frustrations, and really, just take things a little less seriously, you’ll be amazed at how much calmer your whole relationship will be.
Don’t let the “10 year itch” scare you – it’s only natural, and with the right approach, you can have a great relationship all year, every year!
Start improving your marriage today.
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com