Like many, you may think that relationships are more exciting when you’re young and care free. But new research has suggested that couples actually tend to have it better when they’re older.
Everyone knows that relationships aren’t always a fairy tale with an endless honeymoon period. They can be tough and challenging at times, and while some may assume that bickering and regular arguments tend to occur when you’ve been with your partner for a long time, a new study has proved otherwise.
According to research from the University of California, Berkeley, our relationships actually start to become less combative and more humorous and accepting as we get older.
The researchers carried out the study by videotaping conversations between 87 middle-aged and elderly married couples, all of whom are from San Francisco and had been married between fifteen to thirty-five years. After tracking their ’emotional interactions’ over 13 years, the researchers found that ‘as couples aged, they showed more humour and tenderness towards each other.’
They also noticed that criticism and defensiveness dropped over the years. The study’s senior author, Robert Levenson said: ‘Our findings shed light on one of the great paradoxes of late life. Despite experiencing the loss of friends and family, older people in stable marriages are relatively happy and experience low rates of depression and anxiety. Marriage has been good for their mental health’. This means more friendship and love, and less chance of affairs.
Co-author Alice Verstaen, added: ‘Underscore the importance of intimate relationships as people age, and the potential health benefits associated with marriage.’
The researchers, who had been tracking the participants since the late 1980s, explained that their listening and speaking behaviours were ‘coded and rated according to their facial expressions, body language, verbal content and tone of voice,’ while their emotions were categorised into ‘anger, contempt, disgust, domineering behaviour, defensiveness, fear, tension, sadness, whining, interest, affection, humour, enthusiasm and validation,’ for the study.