In 2011, Great Britain’s Understanding Society found that happiness in marriage declines with age.
Older couples are less content than their younger counterparts, while young, childless couples are the happiest of them all. It makes sense, all they have to worry about is themselves.
All though there is joy in having children and watching them grow up, there is also joy in having all of your life to make yourself happy first.
Understanding Society, a £49 million nationwide research project commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, surveys the lives of 40,000 households via annual interviews with 100,000 people of all ages for at least the next two decades.
Think of it as a taxpayer-funded investigation on happiness, which will be made public so that the country can adjust its behavior accordingly.
We may start seeing fewer children on Halloween, although sad, but maybe that means we can have more candy for ourselves. It might even mean fewer screaming children in restaurants or other public places we enjoy.
The information they’ve gathered so far says that the happiest marriages are under five years long, and occur between college-educated couples with no children where the man has a job. Cohabiting couples are less happy than married ones, but women, especially, grow worn out over the course of their marriage. The news just gets better and better!
But don’t worry: if you’re older, are raising a growing brood of children, and have been married for over half your life, you’re already past the worst period of marriage, which occurs when your children are in preschool. To no one’s surprise, the report says that couples expressed greater contentment once their youngest child had grown up.
Even better, skip the child growing up part and just remained childfree for life. What happiness can there be waiting to be happy? I will be quite content being the fun aunt and returning my nieces and nephews to their parents, their real responsibilities.
Obviously, the answer here isn’t to ditch your spouse after five years and find another one. Unless you need to, then you go girl.
Nor should you avoid procreating to prolong your own contentment. If anything, this study may serve as a reality check to bright-eyed young things who see marriage as the be-all of happiness, when maintaining it beyond five years requires a lifetime of work.
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Take time to be yourself, and to understand who you are. before you even think about marriage, if you are a bright-eyed young thing. If you do manage to make it past the five-year mark, all the more happiness to you.
Denise Ngo is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in pop culture, fashion, science, faith, and relationship writing.