Is there a procedure that can help you sustain a high-quality marriage over time?
By Alyx Gorman
It’s sad to say it, but statistically speaking, you’re never as happy in your marriage as when you were newly wed.
Researchers call this the “downward trajectory in marriage satisfaction”, and while it may not be true for your relationship, most people have certainly experienced some sort of decline in their loved-up levels post-Honeymoon phase.
Fortunately, there’s a solution – and it’s crazy quick and easy.
Here, I’ll let Dr Eli Finkel, the Director of Social Psychology at Chicago’s North Western University explain (video below):
If you don’t have time to watch the video (it’s worth it though, we swear), here are the crib notes:
- Our expectation of marriage in the 21st century is different from how we used to think about intimate partners. We don’t just want husbands now, we want them to be our best friends too.
- Marriage satisfaction declines over time. As you begin to fight, develop scar tissue from those fights and slowly become annoyed with each other’s idiosyncrasies, you feel less and less happy.
- Most people don’t work on their marriages until it’s already way too late. If you start working on the health of your marriage before it declines, you’ll be so much happier in the long run.
- All marriages have conflict but learning how to fight properly is what keeps couples together. A good fight is one where you hear the perspective of your partner, rather than being stuck purely in your own point of view.
- But learning how to fight properly is easier than you think. And that’s where the marriage hack comes in. Dr Finkel asked his test subjects to write about the last huge fight they had with their partners. Then they had to think about three questions for seven minutes each. Those three questions were 1) How would you explain the fight from the perspective of a neutral third-party who just wants the best for everyone? 2) What obstacles would you encounter when trying to adopt this perspective? and 3) How would you surmount these obstacles?
- When test subjects were asked to write about their conflicts in this way once a year, spending seven minutes on each question, their marital decline stopped. They were less angry in their fights and more able to see things from each other’s perspective. Amazing!
Now the only problem with this is, it might be a bit tricky to explain to your partner that you’d like to take 21 minutes out once a year to do a journalling exercise about your last big fight. But once they stop laughing at you, give it a go.
Not only were the people who tried the marriage hack happier in their relationships, they were also less stressed, less depressed and more satisfied with their lives in general. Sounds like it’s worth the time.
Originally appeared at MamaMia.com.au
Lead photo: Flickr/uberzombie