Melbourne: A new study which has found that couples are unhappiest in their first year of marriage, has claimed that honeymoon period is a fable. The study also found that the happiest husbands and wives are those who have notched up more than 40 years of wedded bliss.
The research, by Deakin University's Australian Centre on Quality of Life, measured the happiness of 2000 people on a scale of 0 to 100.
The average score for the Australian population is 75 but couples in their first year of marriage score a rating of 73.9 compared with people who have been married for four-plus decades at 79.8.
"It's a little unexpected because the perception is that newlywed couples should be the happiest, but in reality that's not the case," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted lead author Dr Melissa Weinberg as saying.
Dr Weinberg described the phenomenon as the "wedding hangover" or the crash experienced by couples after the big day.
"People imagine their wedding day to be the best day of their lives," she said.
"The engagement period is very exciting and it's a much anticipated event. After the big day, all couples are left with is the photos, the video, a pile of bills and the realisation that you have just made that huge life decision for better or worse," she said.
Relationship counsellor John Aiken agreed, saying it is hard for couples to go from publicly celebrating their love to negotiating whose turn it is to change the toilet roll.
"Often when couples are getting married they set aside some major issues in their relationship to focus on the special day," he said.
"They get so swept up in the excitement of the wedding day, it's hard to adjust to the normal humdrum life which follows. It's the post-wedding blues," Aiken said.
The research found that couples bounce back from post-nuptial depression with their happiness score increasing to 78.4 in the second year of marriage.
Those who can stay the distance are the happiest of all, with Aiken noting that couples learn how to manage conflict better over time.
"Couples who have been married for a long time learn from experience," he said.
"They learn how to resolve issues and find out what works for them and what doesn't. Newlyweds don't have that sort of experience to draw upon," he added.