A recent study has pinpointed the exact stage in which a married couple reaches peak happiness. Published in Social Networks and the Life Course, the study found that although happiness can fluctuate and even decline during the first 20 years of marriage, once you reach the 20-year mark, it's smooth sailing.
According to data from a study titled "Marital Instability Over the Life Course," researchers examined long-term trends regarding marital happiness, shared activities, and discord. They found that happiness gradually decreased during the first 20 years of marriage before stabilizing around year 20. Additionally, while spouses did fewer activities together during the first 20 years of marriage, they began doing more and more things together at this point. Finally, disagreements steadily declined over time.
Of course, not all marriages make it this far, so researchers had to take into account whether or not the relationships they studied ended in divorce. However, couples who did stand the test were in for a treat in the long run. "Our results suggest that marriages that remain together show little evidence of deterioration in relationship quality over the marital life course," researchers Paul R. Amato and Spencer L. James wrote. While the road to happiness is not always easy, staying with a partner for 20 years and beyond may lead to maximum happiness in the long run.