They say that love is blind. And that’s probably for the best. Because a new study shows that people who greatly idealize their spouses have the happiest marriages. For the first few years, anyway. The research appears in the journal Psychological Science. [Sandra Murray et al., "Tempting Fate or Inviting Happiness?: Unrealistic Idealization Prevents the Decline of Marital Satisfaction," link to come]
Most people mentally accentuate their partners’ better qualities. At least during courtship. If we didn’t, who would ever tie the knot? But some folks take these fantasies to cartoonish extremes. Now, you’d think such people are in for a rude awakening when they realize they married a real human being with real human flaws. But this new study says it isn’t so.
Researchers recruited 222 newlywed couples and followed them for three years. They periodically asked the subjects to describe themselves and their partners. And they found that people who maintained the most unrealistic view of their better halves were actually the most satisfied with their marriage.
When the honeymoon’s over, it could be that those who idealize their mates may be more likely to forgive the transgressions that arise when people are no longer on their best behavior. Whatever the reason, the study suggests that couples should exchange rings—and rose-colored glasses.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]