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Is the U-Curve of Marital Satisfaction an Illusion? A 40-Year Study of Marriage
Caroline O. Vaillant and George E. Vaillant
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 55, No. 1 (Feb., 1993), pp. 230-239
Published by: National Council on Family Relations
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352971
Page Count: 10
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We report on a 40-year study of 169 college men and their wives. We examined marital satisfaction prospectively and retrospectively. When examined retrospectively, marital satisfaction followed a weak curvilinear pattern with the lowest point of marriage at approximately 20 years. When studied prospectively, the U-curve disappeared and marital satisfaction remained relatively stable, particularly in the middle and later years. The couples did not differ in their assessment of the stability of their marriage, or in their closeness to separation or divorce, or in their mutual sexual satisfaction. The difference between the spouses came only in their assessment of the difficulty of solving disagreements, which seemed for the wives to become more difficult over time. These patterns of marital satisfaction held true whether studied according to number of years married, age of each partner, or stage of the family life cycle.
Journal of Marriage and Family © 1993 National Council on Family Relations