Keeping the Love Alive:
Secrets to Staying Connected to Your Spouse
Some consider marriage the most intimate and meaningful relationship of our lifetimes. There is something intrinsically special about building a life and spending the rest of your days with the person you feel connected to the most. So what’s the secret to keeping the flame afire? Research reveals these markers of a happy marriage:
Be nice. It sounds like a kindergarten lesson, but it holds true in our adult relationships – especially marriage. A recent study shows that by putting aside one’s own needs to perform a good deed for their spouse, both of them can feel happier. Whether it’s calling to say you’re thinking about him or finishing a chore he’s been dreading, random acts of kindness from both spouses can go a long way in marital satisfaction.
The kindness rule also holds true in times of conflict. Most couples are sure to encounter differences in points of view from time to time. That’s to be expected in any relationship – even the healthy ones. Experts believe that as long as you have five times more positive interactions than negative ones, your marriage is likely to remain stable. But when quarrels do arise, arm yourself with communication strategies to approach hot button topics and disagreements with a kindhearted tone to send the conversation in a positive direction.
Treating each other kindly in marriage is not only good for the mind and soul, it’s also beneficial for the body. There’s evidence that shows a link between negative, hostile behaviors during marital conflict and health problems that affect the autonomic, endocrine, and immune functions. Kindness feels good because it is good.
After the honeymoon stage is over, it’s easy for well-meaning couples to settle into daily routines and inadvertently ignore each other. One spouse may ask an ordinary question or make an immaterial comment, but the other may not notice or is too distracted to respond. Remarkable couples research by John Gottman, a noted psychologist, found that neglecting even the smallest attempts to connect on an emotional level can deteriorate a relationship over time. Gottman asserts that couples who acknowledge each other’s requests for engagement – however trivial – were more likely to experience long-term marital happiness.
Observers of married couples found that the happier pairs could overlook the maddening behaviors of their spouses, and focus instead on commending the pleasant ones. So just ignore the the overstuffed dishwasher or the dirty socks on the floor. Try praising him for raking the leaves or waking up early to drive the kids to practice instead.
Another study looked at the way couples recognize each other’s achievements and its impact on relationship satisfaction. When a romantic partner shares such joyful news, like a job promotion, experts suggest that forming an enthusiastically supportive response may help them feel more connected and satisfied in the relationship. Does your spouse deserve a pat on the back? Give it!
Practicing a Sense of Humor
Jerry Seinfeld. Steve Martin. Charlie Chaplin. Comedians have the innate ability to see the lighter side of life. For the rest of us, that skill may take a little work. But evidence shows that couples in marriages that embrace a sense of humor, especially from the woman, tend to thrive. Silly jokes and self-deprecating humor can help to release tension and offer comfort in times of stress.
In a series of relationship studies, researchers concluded that partners who expressed appreciation of one another had a higher chance of staying together over the long haul. Many even felt a stronger sense of commitment. It sounds too simple, but those two magic words – thank you – can help you stay connected to your spouse for years to come.
Keeping the love alive in your marriage is possible at any age. Remembering these proven secrets can help you connect with your spouse so you can enjoy a long and happy life together.
Founded in 1995, Beaver Dam Women’s Health (BDWH) is a women’s health clinic dedicated to providing the Dodge County community with personalized and accessible women’s health care that caters to their specific medical needs. Call 920-885-6090 for more information.