Marriage: It’s Only Going to Get Worse

Lockhorns Marriage Box of Chocolates Cartoon I was rather amused to see the headline “Marriage: It’s Only Going to Get Worse” at Yahoo! News.

If your spouse already bugs you now, the future is bleak. New research suggests couples view one another as even more irritating and demanding the longer they are together. The same trend was not found for relationships with children or friends.

The study results could be a consequence of accumulated contact with a spouse, such that the nitpicking or frequent demands that once triggered just a mild chafe develops into a major pain. But accumulated irritation has its silver lining. “As we age and become closer and more comfortable with one another, it could be that we’re more able to express ourselves to each other,” said lead study author Kira Birditt, a research fellow at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. “In other words, it’s possible that negativity is a normal aspect of close relationships that include a great deal of daily contact.”

Rather than breeding unhappy couples and ill health, the increase in negativity could be a normal part of relationships. “Because we found that pattern was overall among the participants, it appears to be normative. It’s not something unusual that happens,” Birditt said.

Of course, it’s possible that people actually get more irritating and demanding as they get older.

Regardless, the study’s results are hardly counterintuitive. For example, I rarely get annoyed by people in Cleveland but contemplate violent acts against people in the DC Metro area — particularly people I encounter driving to and from work — on a near-daily basis.

Lockhorns cartoon via The Comics Curmudgeon

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. legion says:

    Clearly, this is all caused by the failure of the Amendment to ban gay marriage.

    You think I’m joking, but I’m counting the minutes until some Dobsonite wacko seriously tries to connect these things.

  2. mannning says:

    It was on Arlington Blvd at Patrick Henry drive that a total idiot stopped his car, got out, and smeared his face on my right-hand window, because he improperly wanted the right of way and didn’t get it. Since I was completely taken aback, I let him jump into his car and go ahead. Could this have been you, James?

    Road rage in DC is no joke!

  3. John425 says:

    This is an oldie but it just recrossed my desk the other day and I think it is an appropriate sendup of this article.


    Dear Tech support,
    Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed
    a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower
    and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

    In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs,
    such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5 and then installed
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    Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.
    I’ve tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

    What can I do?



    First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package,
    while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. Please enter command:
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    Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program
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    Also do not attempt to reinstall Boyfriend 5.0 program.
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    In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have
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    Good Luck,
    Tech Support.