Couples Who Don't Do This Together Have Unhappier Marriages, New Data Shows
A recent survey found a key difference between unhappy and happy couples.
Getting married is the goal for most couples, who know that spending your life with another person is an experience like no other. But relationships aren't always easy, which is why traditional wedding vows include the phrase "for better, for worse." A recent survey evaluated couples' feelings about their marriages, finding that one key thing set happy couples apart from unhappy ones. Read on to find what these dissatisfied spouses hadn't done together.
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It's important to spend time enjoying each other's company.
Spending quality time with your significant other is crucial. In fact, it's one of the five primary love languages people can have, in addition to words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service. Travel is one way to spend time one-on-one, especially if you're able to get away without the kids in tow.
"Given that partners often get mired in work and routine daily activities, travel can provide a much-needed boost to overall happiness and life satisfaction," clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, tells Best Life. "The mere act of planning a trip together can create mood-boosting energy that brings couples closer together, as it gives them something to look forward to."
You can choose trips "in a collaborative way that honors each person's wants and needs," Manly says, and choosing a destination together can also strengthen your ability to compromise. But according to new data, there's one specific trip your should always take.
This trip is something that shouldn't be skipped.
One of the crucial indicators of marital bliss is whether or not a couple takes a honeymoon, a recent survey found. According to an Aug. 11 press release, a total of 1,000 married Americans were surveyed by Honeyfund, a honeymoon registry site, to determine how honeymoons affect marital satisfaction.
Of couples who had been married for 11 or more years and went on a honeymoon, 59 percent rated their satisfaction as "Excellent." This was then compared with couples who had also been married for 11 or more years and didn't take a honeymoon, of whom only 35 percent rated their satisfaction as "Excellent."
This isn't necessarily surprising, experts say, as a honeymoon is a time for couples to enjoy themselves and celebrate the new life they've started together.
"The destination itself is far less important than the memories that are created by the post-wedding hiatus that allows the new couple to rest, rejuvenate, and celebrate their status as newlyweds," Manly explains. "And, as partners move together through life's ups and downs, the sheer memory of the honeymoon—of the wonders that were experienced together—can be extremely uplifting and connective."
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The tradition is an ancient one.
Honeymoons are nothing new: The term is actually tied back to an ancient Scandinavian tradition, clinical psychologist Nancy B. Irwin, PsyD, CHt, explains.
"Couples would drink a fermented honey at their wedding to enhance conception, and a full moon cycle (a month) of travel or being intimate together would hopefully allow this conception," she explains, adding that human beings enjoy rituals—including honeymoons.
Following the hustle and bustle of a wedding, couples need time to relax and invest in the commitment they've made, and experts say that not taking this ceremonial trip ends up hurting your relationship, much like the new data suggests.
"In my opinion, not taking a honeymoon can be detrimental to the happiness of the new couple," Amy Anderson, founder and CEO of Linx Dating LLC, tells Best Life. "Once the wedding is over and should a couple forgo a honeymoon, it's back to the reality of work, life responsibilities, and pressure from all directions. A honeymoon is a chance to escape, focus on one another, and importantly discuss how to effectively re-enter the 'real world' as a new couple."
There's still time to prioritize travel.
If you weren't able to take a honeymoon when you were first married—due to financial constraints, work, or other obligations—it's not too late to start traveling with your spouse. Survey respondents said travel in general was an indicator of happiness in marriage, as 84 percent of couples who rated their marital satisfaction as "Excellent" also reported that they travel together regularly. Of those who said their marital satisfaction was "Not so good," 78 percent said they don't travel together regularly.
Laura Doyle, relationship coach and author, agrees that travel is necessary, particularly for keeping romance alive. "Think of travel as a form of self-care but for your relationship," she says. "Consider doing a weekend trip once every three to four months with a longer vacations once a year."
If you can make it an intimate getaway, that's even better. Per the Honeyfund data, more than 90 percent of couples who'd taken three or more "romantic trips" since going on their honeymoon rated their relationship as either "Good" or "Excellent." So, with the holidays fast approaching, Doyle says it's the perfect time to "plan something meaningful."
"Taking the time to do things together really feeds your soul and creates deep intimacy between your spouse and you," she says. "It's essential to unplug from the outside world and live in a little bubble from time to time."