Unhappy to Happy: Marriages That Stick It Out

The vast majority of unhappily married adults who decide to divorce discover that this path does not help them to become happier.  [See previous article.]  In fact, over 80% of those who divorce report being either just as unhappy or more unhappy - even years after the fact.  But what about unhappily married adults who decide to stick it out and remain together?  What becomes of them and their marriages?

The same study by the Institute for American Values Center for Marriage and Families that revealed the inability of divorce to make people happier also researched unhappily married adults who stayed together.  What they discovered was that the vast majority of people who remain married despite being unhappily married claimed to be happier five years later! In fact, a full two-thirds (67%) of all couples who initially reported some degree of unhappiness but stayed together reported being happier five years later.

Even more telling, almost 80% who originally rated them selves as 'very unhappy' but remained married later considered themselves 'much happier', personally, and 'happily married' as a couple. A similar study found that 86% of unhappily married couples who remained married have happier marriages five years later. Also, almost 60% of these same marriages were reported to be 'very happy' after five years.

In yet another study, married individuals were asked to rate the happiness of their marriages from one to seven - with one being "very unhappy" and seven being "very happy".  Over three-quarters (77%) of those who initially rated their marriage a "one" (the lowest) changed their rating to a "seven" (the highest) five years later.  What a turnaround!

One may be inclined to think that these vastly improved marriages benefited from some sort of breakthrough therapy or professional intervention.  This was not the case.  While professional marriage counseling is certainly a positive experience that helps many, most couples in the above studies reported doing very little if anything differently.  They simply stuck it out and things got much better over time.
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