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Love In Marriage: Long-Term Love May Not Be Uncommon, Study Says

Old Couple

First Posted: 02/ 2/2012 4:32 pm Updated: 02/ 2/2012 10:24 pm

Can those butterflies at the beginning of a relationship really last a lifetime?

Yes, according to a new study released online Wednesday.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, and Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California found that 40 percent of individuals married more than 10 years report feeling the same level of love for their partner as those newly in love.

The study, entitled "Is Long-Term Love More Than A Rare Phenomenon? If So, What Are Its Correlates?" surveyed 274 married American adults about how they rate their feelings for their partners, from "not at all in love" to "very intensely in love." Researchers found that certain behaviors were common among individuals who loved their partners intensely, with a significant difference between the sexes.

For men, wanting to know where their partner was at all times correlated significantly with intense love. Meanwhile, passion about "nonrelationship factors" correlated significantly with intense love for women.

HuffPost blogger Iris Krasnow found similar anecdotal evidence in her book The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married, in which she highlights the importance of separate hobbies and passions in marriage. She writes: "In order to keep the promise 'till death do us part' without killing someone first, a woman must have work and hobbies she loves," suggesting that wives seek space in their marriages.

According to the Stony Brook study, affectionate behavior and sexual intercourse is also correlated with long-term intense love in marriage. That's not surprising: a recent survey similarly found that couples benefit from cuddling.

Other factors that contributed to feelings of intense love included thinking positively about one's partner, thinking about one's partner when apart, sharing different and challenging activities and general life happiness.

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Filed by Jennifer Lai  |