From Bliss to Despair: Beware the Honeymoon Effect, Says Study



So you know how you always hear about the “honeymoon stage” of a new marriage, which refers not to time spent on tropical beaches, umbrella-ed drinks in hand, but rather to the first few months or year of marriage, where you basically have major googly eyes for each other/cartoon hearts floating above your heads, and all is right with the world?

Well, a new study says that 1) this is actually a real thing, and 2) that it’s actually not such a great thing.

Researchers from New York University followed 396 couples for the first two and a half years of their marriage, and found that those individuals who really experienced the honeymoon effect—who were super duper elated with their marriage in the very beginning—tended to be more unhappy about 30 months down the road than people who didn’t fly so high immediately after tying the knot. They also tended to be more depressed or unsatisfied people who basically got distracted from their unhappiness by the initial excitement of marriage.

“Men who were more depressed or aggressive, or whose fiancées were more depressed or less satisfied with the relationship, were more likely to exhibit the honeymoon effect,” Dr. Lorber tells The Huffington Post. “Things worked out pretty similarly for the women as well … The more depressed or aggressive women were, or the more depressed, aggressive, or dissatisfied their fiancés were, the more likely they were to have fairly high initial satisfaction that dropped sharply.”

The good news is, that just as with any red flag, if you know to recognize the signs, you can avoid the crash. If you know that you don’t feel quite right, and that the wedding might be distracting you from some deeper stuff you’ve got going on, or if you realize that right after your wedding you feel like you’re living in a fairy tale, you can use that awareness to make sure settling back into reality—actual, real, every day married life—is smooth sailing, instead of a downward spiral.

We’ve talked about preventing/handling the post-wedding blues that way, too—because while the wedding is exciting and fun and amazing and filled with love, it’s really the marriage you need to plan for.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Avoid the Post-Wedding Blues 

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