A new study out of Northwestern University tries to tackle the age-old question of why some people seem to fall out of love after tying the knot.
If it's already gone, gone, gone ... and you can't go on, this news may not help much. But it is something to think about if you're about to get married.
It turns out that the qualities people like most in the person they're dating may not be the same as what they need once they actually get married.
Relationship experts will tell you it's important for your partner to help you grow and support your aspirations. But according to the study, that becomes less important once the couple commits to marriage.
Married relationships tend to revolve around upholding the commitment to the marriage itself, the study found. It's also important that a man or woman in a marriage feels the other partner helps them achieve their necessary obligations.
While that may sound like marriage takes the fun out of life, it turns out that people who take the time to both support their partner's aspirations and fulfill those pesky obligations are happier and may be more likely to stay together.
“In other words, the feelings of being loved and supported that people use to judge who makes a good girlfriend or boyfriend may not be completely trustworthy in deciding who makes a good husband or wife,” said Daniel Molden, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern and lead author of the study. “Those feelings may only partially capture the emotions that will determine your satisfaction with the person you marry.”
The findings could be important in explaining why so many marriages fall apart, Molden said.
“People planning to get married should think about not only how their partners support what they hope to achieve but also about how their partners support what they feel obligated to accomplish,” Molden said. “We could end up with both happier marriages and more satisfied people in general.”
The study will be published in the July issue of Psychological Science.