Why Do Some Happy Newlyweds Divorce While Other Couples Stay Happily Married?

Unfortunately, evidence shows that a percentage of couples who are happily married as newlyweds are still getting divorced after several years of marriage. Why are some couples able to create a long-lasting, meaningful marriage while others seem to lose satisfaction and contentment over time?

In a longitudinal study between happy newlyweds that eventually divorced after 5 to 10 years of marriage and happy couples that stayed married, the researchers looked for as many possible differences between the two groups to possibly account for why some couples become less satisfied with their marriages over time. In many respects, the two groups were strikingly similar; both groups appeared committed to their marriages and the ideals of marriage, and there were no differences in whether they had cohabitated before marriage or whether they had children. The divorced group was younger, which might indicate less emotional maturity in handling the needs and wants of a spouse.

What appeared to be crucial above all were the deleterious effects of negative marital communication patterns on the couple. Although there appeared to be very little difference in the positive communication styles of all the couples, those that divorced years later had notable differences in their negative communication patterns. Couples who eventually divorced exhibited more anger and contempt for their spouse, and were more likely to blame and invalidate the feelings of their partner. Those that divorced spoke excessively of what they would like to change about their partner, discouraged the expression of feelings, and insisted that their spouse resolve the difficult situation on their own.

It appears that the difference between satisfied couples and young couples that end up divorcing is most related to a lack of support for each other and contemptuous negativity that eventually poisons a meaningful relationship.

Jennifer De Francisco, MPA, MSW, LCSW is a marriage and couples counselor in the Irvine, Newport Beach, and Orange County area. She specializes in relationships, depression, and grief.

Please call her at (949) 251-8797 to schedule an appointment for marriage counseling.

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Chris B.5.0
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Kids are always hard and as a parent it's not always easy to see objectively what is really going on. Jennifer helped me talk through challenges/issues with my oldest son that were running through my head. In the end she provided me a solid perspective to build on and because of that I have been able to manage the situation much better. Easy conversation and very helpful.
Ravenna S.5.0
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Jennifer is such a wonderful and genuine therapist. She is extremely kind and understanding. She comprehends couple and mental health problems precisely. I would definitely recommend her to anyone that is seeking help.
Ravenna5.0
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Jennifer is such a wonderful and genuine therapist. She is extremely kind and understanding. She comprehends couple and mental health problems precisely. I would definitely recommend her to anyone that is seeking help.
Timothy 5.0
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I have been seeing Jennifer De Francisco for about a year, and she has helped me so much with the unhappiness I thought would never go away. Jennifer’s compassion and empathy made me feel safe enough to open up and talk about the uncomfortable feelings I didn’t even know were causing my sadness. With Jennifer’s help, I am now aware of my negative thoughts. Instead of avoiding them, I can work through them. She has helped change my life.
Denise5.0
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It was tough when we first started with Jennifer , but through difficult conversations and understanding some of the causes of how closed off we were to each other, we worked through it and are in a good place. The idea that we could break up is the furthest thing from my mind now, and going in to work on our relationship was the best thing to do. One of the things that really helped was that I felt Jennifer really cared that our relationship worked and that we improved things between us. I think that is rare, and always helped me not give up hope.
George S.5.0
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I know people hate to hear this, but relationships take work, especially with kids and stress. I would suggest relationship counseling for any married couple, even if it were just monthly or when things get tough. We continue to see Jennifer after our initial problem because it keeps us on track. Best of luck to all couples looking for help- Jennifer is a wonderful resource.