Sticking with an unhappy marriage after the birth of children could be the best decision couples ever make, researchers have found.
A study into the long-term success of marriages found that the majority of couples who reported being unhappy following the birth of their first child feel fulfilled a decade on, The Telegraph has reported.
Seven in 10 couples report being unhappy when their first child is born, but 68 per cent of those report being happy 10 years later, with 27 per cent saying they were “extremely happy”, giving their relationships a score of seven out of seven.
The study, commissioned by the Marriage Foundation, suggests that couples would do well to work through difficult periods if they want to achieve long term satisfaction.
Harry Benson, from the Marriage Foundation, said: “Contrary to popular belief, staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you ever do.
“Most marriages have their unhappy moments, but apart from the fortunately extremely rare cases where the relationship involves abuse, most couples can work through the difficulties to be happy later on.”
Over the last few decades, marriage has been deeply undermined by a growing welfare state, particularly among the poorest in the country. Just 24 per cent of parents in the lowest income bracket are married, compared to 89 per cent in the highest. Yet numerous studies have indicated that children raised by married parents do better and go further in education, commit fewer crimes, and report higher levels of wellbeing as adults.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court Judge and the founder of Marriage Foundation, said: “With family breakdown – especially in the first ten years – at peak levels, this is really important, myth-busting research.
“This study shows that because a couple is having a tough time adjusting to the demands of children, does not mean they will not come through it and end up with a really high-quality, high-satisfaction relationship in the long term.
“The problem lies in the misconceptions around the nature of long-term relationships. They do not just happen.
“Talk to anyone who has a satisfying relationship 20 years on and they will tell you that it has had to be forged by sensitive, hard work by both sides over time.
“Keeping your relationship working and going forward is the far and away the best and most important ingredient in your child’s development.”