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Study examines causes of marital unhappiness

Many people wonder what causes couples to decide to divorce while others stay together and live out their lives successfully. Some conventional wisdom seems to indicate that people tend to become more unhappy with their marriages over time, with the "end of the honeymoon period" leading to greater dissatisfaction and discontentment. Obviously, an unhappy marriage can lead to a divorce. However, the factors that can lead to marital unhappiness are often individual and vary widely from couple to couple. Researchers at the University of Georgia came together with those at another university to examine the issue.

Major issues like addiction or infidelity can spark a divorce, but many couples choose to separate without a dramatic issue at the beginning. The researchers identified 431 couples, specifically selecting those from a lower-income area, as they noted that prior studies had focused primarily on middle-class couples. The participants were surveyed in 2009 as newlyweds and on five occasions moving forward through 2014. They were asked eight questions about their satisfaction in their relationship, including their levels of trust in their partners and their happiness with the amount of time they spent together.

The researchers found that the strongest indicator of a happy long-term marriage was being a happy couple in their newlywed days. Couples who began their marriages trusting each other were much more likely to continue to do so. On the other hand, couples indicating low levels of relationship satisfaction in the earliest days of their marriages were more likely to decline even further.

Whether a relationship comes to an end over a particular incident or the couple grows apart over time, divorce can be a major change in people's lives. A family law attorney can work with a client to reach a fair settlement on outstanding issues like property division.

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