Here’s why studies find year ten so stressful for couples.

Marriage can be a beautiful journey, a shared adventure filled with dreams, laughter, and love. It’s a partnership that offers companionship, support, and a sense of belonging. From the moment two people say their vows, they embark on a path of shared experiences, creating memories that bind them together. Couples share joyous moments that make their hearts flutter with happiness, and they face challenges that test their bond, making it more vigorous with each hurdle they overcome.

However, like any journey, the path of marriage is not always smooth. It has its peaks of joy and valleys of challenges. It’s a journey that requires constant navigation, understanding, and effort from both partners. But while every stage of this journey has unique highlights, relationship experts and marriage counselors often point out that the tenth year of marriage can be particularly challenging for many couples.

NOTE: This article is based on general knowledge and research. Of course, it is always best to consult a professional counselor or therapist for advice tailored to your unique relationship.

A Decade-Long Marriage Study at Brigham Young University


The School of Family Life at Brigham Young University (BYU) did a comprehensive research project named “Couple Relationships and Transition Experiences” (CREATE). This study involved a diverse group of 11,000 couples from all over the United States. The study focuses on married couples, tracking their journey for ten years.

Carissa Hedquist, an academic researcher involved in the project, stated that the study addressed the gaps in current marriage research. “There’s a lack of nationwide studies that concentrate on newlyweds and their collective evolution,” she said. 

Therefore, the CREATE project, led by a team of eight scholars specializing in family relationships, sought to fill this void.

The study started with couples who have been married for less than a year and will analyze the impact of various life events, both major and minor, on their marital relationships. The goal was to identify the correlation between life’s stressful events and their positive or negative outcomes on the marriage.

The selection of couples for the study was random, drawn from a list of newly married couples across the United States. This list came from public records of marriage and divorce rates. The selected couples represent more than 239 counties across the country.

Brian Bradford, a faculty advisor for the project, emphasized the study’s uniqueness:

“No other study on marriage and family has been this random and stratified across the nation. We will be studying couples from every corner of the country.”

The study started with an extensive survey of about 400 questions covering various aspects of the couples’ relationships. The research then dove into the everyday life of these couples, with participants providing updates every three months about any significant or minor life events and their impact on the relationship.

Jeremy Yorgason, the study’s principal investigator, explained the focus on “marital virtues” like forgiveness, kindness, and commitment. “We aim to understand how these positive qualities develop in the relationship of young, newly married couples,” he said.

The study also explored the impact of “minor transitions,” such as moving houses, job changes, or graduation from college. The research team anticipates that these minor transitions could either bring couples closer, preparing them for more significant life events, or strain their relationship if they struggle to establish marital values during these transitions.

While the study did not include couples from BYU, students from all majors are invited to participate as researchers in this project. 

“This project offers a fantastic opportunity for students to gain valuable experience. This is also the largest study of its kind, and we are eager to start seeing the results,” said Hedquist about the project’s kickoff.

Why the Tenth Year of Marriage Becomes Problematic for Many Couples

But what makes the 10th year so challenging? Why is it that after a decade of shared life, couples often find themselves at a crossroads, grappling with issues they didn’t anticipate? The tenth year is a period of transition and change. 

survey that measured dissatisfaction in married women revealed some of the challenges faced. 

It’s a phase where the initial excitement of the early years has faded, replaced by the reality of everyday life. Additionally, couples may face the pressures of raising children, advancing their careers, or managing financial responsibilities.

Moreover, the tenth year is often when couples start to feel a sense of complacency or even boredom. The routines that once brought comfort and stability may now seem monotonous. The spark that once ignited the relationship may seem dim, leading to questions and doubts about the relationship’s future.

But while the tenth year of marriage can be challenging, it’s important to remember that challenges are not dead-ends. Instead, they are opportunities for growth, understanding, and strengthening the bond. So, the question is not just about why the 10th year is so challenging. 

Perhaps more importantly – how can couples address and overcome them? Or how can couples navigate this phase successfully and use it as a stepping stone toward a stronger, more fulfilling relationship? 

The answers to these questions lie instead in understanding the dynamics of long-term relationships and applying strategies that foster communication, connection, and mutual growth.


Fifteen Strategies to Help Keep a Strong Relationship

While the tenth year of marriage can be tricky, it’s not an insurmountable hurdle. Here are some evidence-based strategies that can help couples navigate this challenging phase:

1. Open Communication: This is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. So it’s essential to express your feelings, needs, and concerns openly and honestly. Don’t keep it to yourself if you’re feeling unfulfilled or unhappy. Discuss it with your partner and work on finding a solution together.

2. Prioritize Quality Time: With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to neglect spending quality time together. So make it a point to have regular date nights or engage in activities you enjoy. That can help reignite the spark and strengthen your bond.

3. Seek Professional Help: If you’re finding it challenging to navigate your issues, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. Marriage counselors help couples understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationship skills and interactions.

4. Practice Empathy: See things from your partner’s perspective. Understanding their point of view can help you understand their feelings and reactions better. Thus, it leads to less conflict and more harmony.

5. Keep the Romance Alive: Just because you’ve been married for a decade doesn’t mean the romance has to die. So surprise your partner with small gestures of love, like leaving them a sweet note or planning a surprise date.

6. Invest in Personal Growth: Sometimes, dissatisfaction in marriage stems from personal dissatisfaction. Invest time in personal growth and self-improvement. That can not only make you happier as an individual but also bring a positive impact on your relationship.

7. Cultivate Shared Interests: Having common hobbies or interests can bring couples closer and provide them with shared experiences and memories. If you don’t already have shared interests, consider exploring new activities together.

8. Practice Gratitude: Regularly expressing gratitude for your partner can foster a positive relationship environment. It’s easy to take each other for granted as the years go by, but acknowledging and appreciating each other’s efforts can make a significant difference.

9. Establish Healthy Boundaries: Everyone needs personal space, even within a marriage. Establishing and respecting each other’s boundaries can also lead to a healthier and more balanced relationship.

10. Regular Check-ins: Have regular relationship ‘check-ins’ or ‘state of the union’ meetings where you discuss the health of your relationship. In fact, it can be a safe space to address issues, concerns, or positive feedback.

11. Keep Learning About Each Other: People change over time, and so do their likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Make a conscious effort to keep learning about your partner and show interest in their personal growth.

12. Practice Forgiveness: Holding onto grudges or past mistakes can breed resentment. So practice forgiveness and let go of the past to make room for a happier future.

13. Nurture Your Friendship: A strong friendship is at the core of every strong marriage. Nurture your friendship with your spouse by sharing, supporting, and having fun together like good friends.

14. Maintain Physical Intimacy: Physical intimacy is essential to a romantic relationship. In fact, regular affectionate touch, cuddling, and sexual intimacy can help maintain the bond and connection.

15. Set and Work Towards Common Goals: Set shared goals, whether they’re about finances, family, travel, or personal growth, can give you something to work towards together. It will also strengthen your bond.


Final Thoughts on Strategies for Navigating That Tenth Year of Your Marital Relationship

Remember, every marriage has its highs and lows. So understand that the tenth year might be challenging. But it’s also an opportunity for growth and deeper understanding. You can successfully navigate this phase and become stronger as a couple with patience, empathy, and effort.