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Marriage Joys and Regrets Revealed

The happiest year of married life is the third one, research has revealed today. A study carried out among 2,000 married people found a whirlwind first year of being swept along in a tide of post-wedding happiness is followed by a year of getting to know each other.

But the third year marks the point in the partnership when, having overcome the occasional doubt and learned to deal with each other’s imperfections, couples begin to settle into a comfortable co-existence. It’s also around this time that plans to add to the family are likely to be discussed, further cementing the relationship.

The in-depth study, commissioned by family law specialists Slater and Gordon examined the dynamics of modern married life and found that by the third anniversary both parties were content with the financial implications of tying the knot and sharing bills and expenses.

Enjoying the luxury of two salaries also makes this an enjoyable time along with the fact that renovations or improvements to the marital home are likely to be close to completion.

In contrast, the study found the fifth year to be the hardest to overcome due to factors such as tiredness or even exhaustion amid increasing workloads.

Slater and Gordon Family Lawyer Amanda McAlister said, "It's not very often that we see clients in those first few years of marriage but by the five year mark or a couple of years after they have children we often have married couples asking us for advice.

"The buzz of the first few years where everything is new is hard to maintain and often people find that married life hasn't lived up to their expectations. We encourage anyone having doubts at this point in their marriage to really think about whether its a crisis that can't be overcome. Often those clients will just be having a hard time and six months later their marriage will have completely turned a corner. "

Familiarity with each other, regular bickers over the sharing of chores and the stress caused by financial worries surrounding caring for a young child all begin to take their toll around the five year point.

But respondents voted seven years to be ‘the wall’ which if scaled successfully paves the way for a long, happy and lasting liaison for matrimony.

One in ten admitted ‘they didn’t realise how hard it would be’ and others confessed to suffering an emotional ‘comedown’ after the high of the wedding. Indeed a third of people feel there isn’t enough affection in their marriage and one in five say there are days when they regret the decision to get hitched completely. Unbalanced sex drives, different hobbies or social preferences were found to provide stumbling blocks after the first few years.

The study found half the 2,000 studied said their wedding day as the happiest of their life and the first year was ranked just behind the third for general happiness. Major factors behind this were that they were 'basking in the newlywed glow' coupled with unbridled optimism about a new life together. But that soon faded, according to the study amid the harsh realisation of the determination it requires to make the marriage work- one third feel the love in their marriage has reduced since the big day.

Amanda McAlister added, "People often get so overwhelmed by the first few years they forget that a successful marriage requires work. Marriages have ups and downs and highs and lows. Most things can be worked through with counselling but if there are more lows than highs that's the point when you might want to get legal advice."

Amanda McAlister is a National Practice Group Leader of Family Law at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free initial consultation for family law and/or divorce. Call freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help. 

Slater and Gordon have the largest team of Family and Divorce Lawyers in the country and have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Wakefield, Halifax and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.