Have you ever wondered if you convinced yourself that you were in love when you got married? Or convinced yourself that your relationship was better than it really was? If you have, you might’ve experienced some anxiety about whether you chose the right person to spend the rest of your life with or not. A recent study reassured us that we shouldn’t worry too much about it if we’re already married because the way we remember things is probably not even close to reality.
In the study, for 8 months about 300 individuals in relationships came in each month to mark their emotional progress with their partner on how ready they felt to get married to them. At the end of the 8 months, they each told their relationship history from beginning to end (current) to the researchers. After extensive analysis, the researchers found that there were 3 types of relationships and people who were in each one told their relationship story very differently.
Types of couples:
1. People who stayed the same on how ready they were to get married to their partner.
These people exaggerated how much worse things were at the beginning and how much better things were now with their partner.
2. People who were closer to engagement at the end of the study.
Their perception of the change in the relationship was very accurate with what they had reported each month.
3. People who pulled back emotionally, but were still dating the same partner.
These people only highlighted the positive aspects of the relationship. They didn’t acknowledge the negative or worrisome aspects of it, when in reality, their responses from each month previous were full of warning signs about the relationship..
Which of the camps do you fall in? And why does it matter?
Well, it matters because:
1. If you are in a relationship where things aren’t changing:
Be careful to not inflate your sense of “progress” just for the sake of feeling like you’ve made progress together. There might be a real reason the relationship isn’t working, and you have to acknowledge that–not cover it up.
2. If you’re in the middle of a decision to marry or you’re already married:
Take comfort in the fact that most couples in this stage of the relationship are in a good place and looking at things pretty accurately, so it’s likely that you know/knew what you are/were getting into when you tied the knot–regardless of how you might be feeling currently.
3. If you are in a relationship where things are falling apart, or constantly falling apart and then getting back together again
Don’t ignore the warning signs!! We are humans who crave connection, so it makes sense why you might inflate the positive things about the relationship and ignore the bad, but this kind of marriage often ends up in divorce. So be sure to keep both eyes open and be checking in with others about the reality of the situation.
If you are struggling with how committed you feel to your relationship, allow the RELATE Assessment to help you understand what might be getting in the way for you!
Read the original study here: A comparison of concurrent and retrospective trajectories of commitment to wed.