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Surviving the 'three-year glitch' in marriage

Surviving the 'three-year glitch' in marriage



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Reuters reports the newest obstacle married couples face is called the "three-year glitch." Researchers say 67 percent of people surveyed say the little irritations become major issues within three years.

Really? Three years? Some counselors in Utah say it probably doesn't even take that long.

"Most of the couples that come in here have been married one or two years. They're coming in already feeling something's not right," said Wasatch Family Therapy clinical psychologist Todd Dunn.

Dunn says getting adjusted to being married is tricky for many people. The young couple is learning how to live under their new roles as husband and wife. They're figuring out how easy, or how hard, it will be to live with each other.

Dunn says before the wedding, everything is moonlight and roses for the engaged couple. They talk about their hopes and dreams -- plus they're full of hormones. Many new husbands or wives don't realize that their new spouse may do something like clip their toenails in a way the other person finds disgusting or snore or squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube after they're already married.

He says the only way to get over being annoyed with your new spouse is to talk.


There is a lot of research out there that says the number one predictor of divorce is couple's ability to argue.

–Todd Dunn


"There is a lot of research out there that says the number one predictor of divorce is couple's ability to argue," he said.

He doesn't mean that couples should like to argue. He means if a couple can figure out a productive and civil way to learn to listen to what the other is saying, then it is a constructive way to argue.

Dunn says young married couples need to realize certain things about their new spouse. For instance, if a man seems to distance himself from his wife, Dunn says the wife needs to know that she shouldn't take it personally. Men frequently isolate themselves as a way to decompress and unload the stress from the day.

But, Dunn says men need to remember to reconnect with their wives. He says emotionally connecting with your new wife is more important than giving her flowers or just saying, "I love you" from time to time.

"It's sitting in front of your wife. It's turning the game off and maybe you're massaging her feet and you're looking at her and you're talking with her," he said. "You're having a conversation and there are no other distractions."

The study was commissioned by Warner Brothers in the UK before the release of the movie "Hall Pass," which talks about couples taking a break from being married.

"'Taking a break,' a lot of times, means you're going elsewhere to get your needs met when you should, in fact, be turning to the person you married for that reason to work on things so things get better," Dunn said.

Dunn says when one person asks him if they should take a break, the marriage is hard to salvage.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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