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Marital satisfaction study upends common divorce beliefs

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2019 | Divorce

It is commonly believed that spouses in Kentucky and around the country become less satisfied with married life as time passes, and divorce is often seen as the inevitable outcome when dissatisfied couples run into problems with money. However, the results of a study conducted by researchers from universities in Georgia and Texas suggest otherwise. The study reveals that spouses who were happy when they walked down the aisle tend to maintain high levels of marital satisfaction even when they are struggling financially.

The study, which was published on Aug. 29 in the academic journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, is viewed as groundbreaking because the 431 couples who participated all lived in low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Previous research into marital satisfaction has relied on data gathered from middle-class and predominately white couples. The researchers contacted the couples once a year between 2009 and 2014 to ask them a series of questions that were designed to gauge their levels of marital satisfaction.

The researchers grouped the couples based on their initial levels of marital satisfaction. Initially-satisfied couples tended to remain happy while initially unhappy spouses became more dissatisfied as time went on. The most significant declines in marital satisfaction were observed among wives who were initially unhappy. However, men in the initially unhappy group tended to become more satisfied after three to five years of married life.

Negotiations over potentially thorny issues like spousal support and property division may become contentious and counterproductive when spouses who have been dissatisfied for years decide to end their marriage. When further discussions seem unlikely to lead to an amicable settlement, experienced family law attorneys could suggest exploring alternatives to a public and costly court battle that could very well leave both spouses unhappy with the outcome. Popular alternatives to litigation include collaborative divorce and mediation.