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First year of marriage unhappiest

The honeymoon period for Australia’s married couples barely extends beyond the bridal waltz, with new research revealing people are least satisfied with life in the first year of marriage. The latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey released today finds people married for less than a year have lower levels of wellbeing than people in any other year of marriage.

While this wedding hangover lasts 12 months, it eventually recedes. Satisfaction with life bounces back in the second year of marriage and is maintained at a high level throughout the length of the relationship, whether for four years or 40. Married people have higher average wellbeing than those who are single, divorced, separated or widowed, the report “The Impact of Marriage on Wellbeing” shows.

“One might be tempted to think newly-married couples are blissfully happy and over the years that feeling will gradually abate as they settle into a long life together, but this turns out not to be the case,” says the report’s lead author Dr Melissa Weinberg of Deakin University’s Australian Centre on Quality of Life.

“Big changes occur in the first year of married life, and not all of them are comfortable for newlyweds. Significant costs can be associated with a new marriage – the cost of the wedding for a start, and potentially the costs involved in purchasing a new house,” Dr Weinberg says.

“De facto couples do not show the same trends for life satisfaction in their first year together. So it boils down to what I call a wedding hangover, couples building up to the wedding day as the best day of their life, and then finding reality biting as they tote up their wedding bills and get back to work after the honeymoon.”

“The message for newly married couples is to persevere through that first frantic year, and reap the rewards later.”

Read the full media release on the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index web site

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