According to a new study from the Ohio State University’s Claire Dush, the levels of conflict in a marriage don’t change over time. Sure, they might increase ever so slightly through the first several years and taper off a bit as the decades pass, but for the most part, what you see now is what you get later.
Dush and her colleague Miles Taylor from Florida State University took data from questionnaires answered over the phone lines from 962 people in marriages who began answering questions in 1980 and were kind enough to do so again five times until 2000. The study found that there were three main categories that couples fell in – those who argued a lot, those who argued some and those who barely argued at all.
That may seem like a no brainer, but having three distinct categories like that with few subjects falling in-between is a solid set of data.
After 20 years, all of the respondents argued just as much as they did at day one. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they were unhappy.
For the most part, the best indicator for happiness in marriage were those who fell in the middle group. And of those, the best predictor for a very happy and mostly happy marriage involved husbands who believed in the institution of marriage and took on a substantial portion of the house work.
(There’s some fuel for fodder, ladies.)
That doesn’t mean there weren’t people who fought a ton and were really happy, or others who never fought at all but were miserable. The bottom line is just don’t expect things to change.