Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 947-962

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Can a Happy Relationship Predict a Happy Life? A Population-Based Study of Maternal Well-Being During the Life Transition of Pregnancy, Infancy, and Toddlerhood

  • Gunvor Marie DyrdalAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Oslo Email author 
  • , Espen RøysambAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of OsloNorwegian Institute of Public Health
  • , Ragnhild Bang NesAffiliated withNorwegian Institute of Public Health
  • , Joar VittersøAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Tromsø


The association between overall life satisfaction (LS) and relationship satisfaction (RS) was investigated longitudinally among mothers (N=67,355), using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Data were collected twice during pregnancy, and at 6 and 36 months postpartum. Satisfaction increased during pregnancy, with RS decreasing immediately following birth and LS showing an initial increase followed by a decrease postpartum. The results showed that LS and RS levels were quite stable over time (.46-.75), as was their cross-sectional associations (.42-.59). Structural equation modeling using a cross-lagged longitudinal model evidenced cross-concept cross-time effects for both LS and RS. The strengths of the cross-effects were asymmetrical and life-phase specific, with RS predicting change in LS more than LS predicted changes in RS during pregnancy and infancy. Having a satisfying romantic relationship is important for retaining and increasing future life satisfaction.


Life satisfaction Relationship satisfaction Subjective well-being Parenthood Pregnancy