Being overly affectionate in the first few years of marriage is a sign a couple will divorce later on, research finds.
While hugging and kissing is normal, being all over each other is a bad sign.
The reason is that this level of romantic bliss is hard to maintain.
Couples who start out too hot and heavy tend to get disillusioned.
It is like beginning a marathon by sprinting — you’re going to run out of puff.
Couples who stay together often have a less intense romance in the first few years of marriage.
The conclusions come from a study of 168 couples who were followed over 13 years, right from their wedding day.
The researchers looked at what predicted marriages would end quickly and what signals suggested it would break down in the long-run.
The study’s authors write:
“As newlyweds, the couples who divorced after seven or more years were almost giddily affectionate, displaying about one third more affection than did spouses who were later happily married.”
In marriages that broke down quicker, the seeds of discontent were there very early — certainly within the first two months.
Couples who divorced within two years were at each other’s throats from the beginning.
The authors conclude:
“The results provide little support for the idea that emergence of distress (e.g., increasing negativity) early in marriage leads to marital failure but instead show that disillusionment — as reflected in an abatement of love, a decline in overt affection, a lessening of the conviction that one’s spouse is responsive, and an increase in ambivalence — distinguishes couples headed for divorce from those who establish a stable marital bond.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Huston et al., 2001).