Some couples really do live happily ever after

Telegraph (UK) 16 December 2008

Some couples really do live happily ever after, according to research which shows the euphoria of first love lasts for decades into a relationship. The study found that couples married for more than 20 years showed similar brain activity to lovers in the throes of a new relationship, when shown pictures of their partners. The photos stimulated the area of the brain associated with euphoria and addiction in both mature couples and young lovers. People in long-term relationships also showed higher levels of activity in a part of the brain associated with calmness, suggesting that their passions had become more serene over the years. Those in love for shorter periods had higher activity in a region associated with obsession and anxiety.

The study, carried out by anthropologist Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, United States, used MRI scans to compare the brain activity of 17 married people aged between 40 and 65 who had been married for at least two decades, with those of a group of younger people who had been in relationships for less than six months.