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Does Your Personality Change After Marriage?

Does your personality change shortly after marriage?  According to recent research at the University of Georgia and UCLA the answer is yes.  The researchers examined the “Big 5” personality traits of 169 newlyweds over the first 18 months of marriage.  The results found declines in agreeableness for both husbands and for wives, suggesting less emphasis on harmony and getting along.

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Who changes more after marriage, men or women?  The research found a decline in extraversion for husbands suggesting less interaction with others including reduced talking and group- or team-based activities.  Husbands also became less conscientiousness which could result in less focus or self-discipline.  Finally, the results also found declines in openness and neuroticism for wives meaning less appreciation or engagement in aesthetic activities, but also fewer negative emotions such as anger or anxiety.

Did age, relationship length before marriage, or prior cohabitation impact the changes?  Interestingly, the answer was no; the personality changes were the same despite differences in these factors.

What’s the take away?  Despite finding “the one” and saying “I do” the first few years of marriage can create some unique challenges.  However, by understanding your spouse’s personality a newlywed couple can achieve marital bliss.

Dr. Rick Van Haveren

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