A joint study of long-lasting marriages by researchers at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and Indiana University has found that couples wed for an average of 40 years know less about each other’s preferences when it comes to food, design and entertainment than those who have been married for only a few years.
The researchers studied two sets of married couples – one aged 19-32 and another aged 62-78. They said that the findings — that accuracy in predicting each other’s preferences decreases over the course of a long relationship – were unexpected.
“That wasn’t what we expected to find, but this evidence lends support to a hypothesis that accuracy in predicting each other’s preferences decreases over the course of a relationship despite greater time and opportunity to learn about each other’s likes and dislikes,” said Peter Todd, a psychologist at Indiana University and one of the authors of the study which will appear in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
The researchers believe that the knowledge decline among older couples happens because they pay less attention to each other – mostly because they are comfortable in their relationships, view themselves as already fully committed or may assume they have nothing more to learn about each other.