Surprise! While a few decades of marriage sounds like plenty of time for spouses to figure out each others' favorite breakfast foods or movies, a new study finds that couples who have been married for 40 years know less about one anothers' preferences than couples who have been in a committed relationship for one or two years.
Researchers at the University of Basel and at Indiana University compared 38 couples between ages 19-32 and 20 married couples between 62 and 78. The younger couples' superior knowledge of each others' favorite foods, design preferences and taste in movies led researchers to suggest that married people grow less familiar with their partner's preferences over time. 5 Things You Don't Need To Have In Common
If this research sounds at all counterintuitive or discouraging to you at all, take heart—they also reveal that a lasting relationship isn't predicated on knowing whether your spouse prefers chunky or smooth peanut butter. The older couples surveyed reported more relationship happiness than the younger couples. There are plenty of perfectly good reasons why you and your husband of twenty years may lose a game of spousal trivia despite being perfectly happy with each other, for example:
1. Interests change. Chances are, your favorite song will change about a hundred times between ages 21 and 65. Who can keep up with that? Be honest, do you even remember your own favorite song from five years ago? After a certain point in a relationship, people stop trying to keep up with passing fancies in order to focus on more pressing matters.
2. Long-term couples confuse themselves with their partners. The old "two become one" saying may be truer than you think. After decades together, separating common experiences and interests can prove difficult, and people who have been married for a long time may project their own interests onto their partner. Why Couples Start To Look Alike
3. People occasionally tell white lies to maintain the relationship. Lying to someone about liking Monty Python doesn't seem like such a big deal compared to a long, headache-inducing conversation about appreciation for British comedy. Many couples believe that it is more important to indulge their partner once in awhile, whether it be in classical music concerts or in unsightly wallpaper, for the sake of compromise.
4. The older couples surveyed may be from a generation where men and women knew less about each other to begin with. Perhaps couples in the 1950s and 1960s weren't as compelled to know more about each other as long as the relationship remained intact. Plus, did you even consider your favorite book before social networks like Friendster and Facebook asked you to name it? We've certainly been trained to discuss and defend our preferences, and perhaps that wasn't exactly so several decades ago.