See Inside March 2006

The Honeymoon Is Over

After the vows, marital happiness may be all downhill

Sociologists have long firmly held that marital bliss is high in the very early years of marriage, declines with the coming of children and rises in later years when children have left home. Happiness thus follows a U-shaped trajectory over the life of a marriage, as shown in the chart.

This belief derives largely from studies that employ a technique--the cross-sectional survey--unsuited to constantly changing phenomena such as marriage because it measures attitudes at only one point in time. A better method is the longitudinal study, which measures attitudes at several points in the life course. Two newer studies employing the more powerful technique now challenge the traditional U-shaped curve of marital happiness.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Limited Time Only!

Get 50% off Digital Gifts

Hurry sale ends 12/31 >


Email this Article