Maybe you should resolve to fix it instead?
“The vast majority of people get married during their lifetimes, and what is known is that, on average, satisfaction declines,” Lavner said. “So the question is, how do couples’ problems actually change? So many people enter marriage happily, but then go on to struggle. What explains that disconnect?”
The study used data from 169 newlywed couples assessed eight times over the first four years of marriage to examine how couples’ marital problems changed. Ratings of 19 specific problems indicated that couples’ difficulties in areas such as in-laws, household management, amount of time spent together and unrealistic expectations do not change. The only area that showed consistent change for husbands and wives was showing affection, which worsened on average.
Overall, the total severity and number of couples’ problems remained stable over the four years, even though couples’ relationship satisfaction declined on average.
Lavner and co-authors Benjamin Karney and Thomas Bradbury from the University of California, Los Angeles, hypothesize that instead of any change in the conflicts, it is couples’ drop in tolerance for their problems that leads the decline in satisfaction.
“The advice we would give is to pay attention and to talk about what’s going on, because it’s not going to improve just on its own,” said Lavner, who is a specialist in family and couple relationships. “Have the real conversation about the state of the marriage and the challenges for you, as well as the strengths, to build on those. But talk about the challenges, and if you decide you need help, couples therapy is a good option.
Today is the day so many make New Years Resolutions. They promise themselves to exercise, to lose weight, to eat better, to be kinder or more loving — and some of them promise themselves to end their marriages.
The highly varied lines are so familiar I can nearly recite them like a script — but they all boil down to pretty much the same story:
“It’s just gotten so bad and I can’t take it any more.”
Occasionally, that’s actually true. Most of the time, the only thing that changed is you.
And healing your resentment, reopening your heart, risking being affectionate and finally getting help to talk through the issues you have swept under the rug for all those years is almost always a better resolution to make.