Looking around you, it seems like all of your happily paired-up friends are on cloud nine, right? The Joneses are expecting twins; the Robertsons are sending their oldest off to college; and the Smiths are giddily announcing on Facebook that they’re taking an ahhh-mazing vacation to Hawaii next month.
Meanwhile, you and your partner suffer in silence. The two of you have settled into a comforting (if not admittedly boring) routine in your life together. And while the flames of passion haven’t fizzled out completely, they’ve diminished to a dull burn.
You’re haunted with the question that plagues so many other couples: Are you as happy as everyone else? And, perhaps an even scarier question: What does it mean if you’re not?
Let’s dig into the most compelling studies out there to answer the question you’re afraid to ask: How do “we” stack up against other happy couples?
The results are surprising, but will hopefully help you put your relationship into perspective. It turns out, happiness is relative and “happy couples” aren’t always as they seem:
1. People who cheat have more fulfilling relationships
We hate to break it to you, but keeping your partner happy at home does NOT make your relationship affair-proof. In fact, most self-admitted cheaters surprisingly described themselves as “happy” in their relationships: According to a study by Rutgers University, 56 per cent of married men who had affairs said they were happy in their marriages.
2. Couples in healthy relationships fight often
Healthy couples average one argument a week. A study out of Florida State University found that couples who made a habit of having “angry but honest” conversations were happier in the long run.
But that doesn’t mean you should rant like a sailor: Out of 100,000 people surveyed for “The Normal Bar,” 90 per cent of the happiest individuals have never cursed at their partners. So fight nice!
3. Couples without children are happier in their relationships
No kids? No problem. As a childless couple, you’re probably much happier for it. While parents feel stressed out and perpetually sleep-deprived, a study by the Open University in England found that childless couples are loving life AND their romantic relationships far more.
They claim it’s because childless couples put more time into working on their relationships than parenting couples. (Imagine a romantic getaway without three kids in tow? Sounds like happiness to me.)
4. Having sex too early hurts chances of staying together
They say that the happiest couples are the most sexually active. The media constantly promotes “research” that endorses the benefits of getting it on with your partner, but what they never clarify is that this doesn’t mean you should sleep together right away.
Researchers from Cornell University studied nearly 600 married and co-habitating couples in order to investigate the connection between the couples’ first sexual encounters and their later perceptions of relationship quality. The results? Waiting at least a month to have sex at the beginning of the relationship helped their chances of being happy later down the line.
5. Couples who make their relationship “Facebook official” are more likely to break up
To all those couples you know who share an obnoxious stream of couple selfies, date night check-ins, and sappy social media status updates, be warned: There’s something to be said for not making everything between the two of you “Facebook official.”
According to a report which studied 1.3 million Facebook users, staying in a relationship depends on “social dispersion.” In other words, couples in a mutual circle of friends were more likely to break up. In another twist, four out of five couples actually point the finger at Facebook for their breakup. (And what’s more awkward than when your breakup goes “Facebook official”?)