Love and Marriage: Two Years of Happiness is All You Get, Says Science

On Sunday, the New York Times opinion section brought a new study to public attention that surmised, based on 1,761 married couples studied over 15 years, that newly married couples get an average two year happiness boost, and then return to baseline, aka single people, levels of happiness. 

The obvious take away, clearly, is that people should get remarried every two years in order to remain ecstatically happy. And to ward off potential diminishing returns, in Big Love style, should perhaps consider polygamy. Twice the spouses could mean up to four years of extra-happiness, statistically speaking. Perhaps it even increases exponentially, though further studies are required.

Another option is apparently to wait 18-20 years until becoming empty-nesters when, “partners are left to discover one another — and often their early bliss — once again.” This must have been the plan of real-life fairytale couple, Kate and Wills. Only halfway into the couple’s promised two years of glee, and they’ve made a baby and potential queen. Although Kate will not be able to enjoy her final year of hedonistic happiness quite as much knocked up, she will at least get a shot of returning to lifetime bliss one year earlier. Good thinking.

Other options for prolonging one’s elevated happiness include: not taking your partner for granted, seeking passion in hobbies or goals, or continuing to have adventure together even if you’re married a while. Of course, none of these alternatives have been scientifically validated. 

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Marni Chan

Marni has a M.A. from NYU's Arthur Carter Journalism Institute's Cultural Reporting and Criticism Program, where she studied under Susie Linfield, Katie Roiphe, and Dennis Lim. She also has a B.A. in history and politics from Pomona College. Marni has previously written for Forbes, AOL, and Conde Nast Traveler.

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