Artwork by Aashika Damodar.
From the New York Times:
New Love: A Short Shelf Life
IN fairy tales, marriages last happily ever after. Science, however, tells us that wedded bliss has but a limited shelf life.
American and European researchers tracked 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over the course of 15 years. The findings were clear: newlyweds enjoy a big happiness boost that lasts, on average, for just two years. Then the special joy wears off and they are back where they started, at least in terms of happiness. The findings, from a 2003 study, have been confirmed by several recent studies.
The good news for the holiday season when families gather in various configurations is that if couples get past that two-year slump and hang on — for another couple of decades — they may well recover the excitement of the honeymoon period 18 to 20 years later, when children are gone. Then, in the freedom of the so-called empty nest, partners are left to discover one another — and often their early bliss — once again.
When love is new, we have the rare capacity to experience great happiness while being stuck in traffic or getting our teeth cleaned. We are in the throes of what researchers call passionate love, a state of intense longing, desire and attraction. In time, this love generally morphs into companionate love, a less impassioned blend of deep affection and connection. The reason is that human beings are, as more than a hundred studies show, prone to hedonic adaptation, a measurable and innate capacity to become habituated or inured to most life changes.
With all due respect to poets and pop radio songwriters, new love seems nearly as vulnerable to hedonic adaptation as a new job, a new home, a new coat and other novel sources of pleasure and well-being. (Though the thrill of a new material acquisition generally fades faster.)
Read the rest of the article here.