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Relationships Get Better With Age

Relationships Get Better With Age

By Barb DePree, MD, NCMP,MMM

Created: 02/26/2020
Last Updated: 02/26/2020

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With Valentine's in the rearview mirror for another year, let's take a closer look at romance. Sometimes we think of romance as just for those newly in love, when the other person's flaws are still adorable instead of annoying. But I think there's also romance in seasoned love that comes from seeing each other clearly and learning how to relate to each other.

Research on middle-age couples shows that in some ways, relationships do get better with time and age. Three times over a 13-year period, researchers watched and coded the interactions of two groups of couples. One group was composed of couples who were 40 to 50 years old and had been married at least 15 years. The second group included couples who were 60 to 70 years old and had been married at least 35 years. 

The researchers found that negative emotional behaviors such as belligerence, defensiveness, fear/tension and whining decreased with age. Meanwhile, positive emotional behavior, like humor, enthusiasm and validation, increased with age.

This happened with both the younger and older group of couples, showing that long-term married couples have much to look forward to, even if the early and middling years were rough.

I don't know about you, but that does my heart a lot of good.

Check out some ways to get closer this winter.

Barb DePree, MD, has been a gynecologist for 30 years, specializing in menopause care for the past 10. Dr. DePree was named the Certified Menopause Practitioner of the Year in 2013 by the North American Menopause Society. The award particularly recognized the outreach, communication and education she does through MiddlesexMD, a website she founded and where this blog first appeared. She also is director of the Women's Midlife Services at Holland Hospital, Holland, Michigan.