There’s a reason why divorce peaks at about four years of marriage. Science shows that after three years, the initial chemicals involved in infatuation – or falling in love – peter out and are replaced by a bonding sense of calm – a calm that some find boring and many assume means they’ve fallen out of love. Not so, say researchers! And if you decide to end things in search of the next high, you will very likely find yourself in exactly the same place… in another three to four years time.
Dating expert Laura Berman recently discussed America’s seeming pre-disposition to high rates of divorce, citing our short attention spans and pleasure-friendly culture as the culprits. Once the infatuation wears off, she said, we are quick to throw in the towel and take what we think is the easy way out: a split. But divorce is not the right move in many situations. And the research proves it.
Studies show, couples who stick it out are happier in the long term than those who leave an unhappy marriage. There is always the possibility that these people were happier to begin with, but it’s more likely that in situations where general malaise or boredom is the reason for the split, (of course abuse, neglect and even infidelity are different matters altogether), staying married would have boosted the couples’ long-term satisfaction. The bonds developed over time, while in our current culture seem to pale by comparison to the excitement of new love and lust, are those that become the most meaningful.
So before you decide you just can’t live with your spouse anymore, Berman advises that you take a step back and look at the situation. Do you respect him or her as a person? As a parent? Are there habits that still endear you to each other? She says couples contemplating a split need to think about the little things, like how he tickles your back when you watch TV or how she always puts your toothbrush back into the cup with hers. “Love is not just about grand gestures. It’s also found in the tiny details that no one but you gets to witness.”
In other words, a change in chemicals does not mean a change of your compatibility. It simply requires a change of perspective.
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