Want a Happier Marriage? Research Says Do This, Not That.
*Welcome to week four of this 12-week series based on the New York Times® bestselling book, Happy Wives Club. Join me each week as I share 12 principles about marriage I’ve learned from some of the happiest couples around the world.*
Over the years, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting so many happily married couples. It seems like nearly every day, I bump into someone that reminds me happiness is not by happenstance, it is created.
Recently, on a press tour in Toronto, I was rushing from one appointment to the next when a gentleman in his early 70′s stopped me on my way out the door. “I just celebrated our 55th anniversary. Want to know our secret?”
Although I had somewhere else to be, I couldn’t help but to stop and listen. I was meant to meet him, in that moment, and allow him to tell his story he was overjoyed to share.
You wouldn’t believe how often I meet a married person who wants to share their enduring love story. And one commonality I have found among the vast majority of these couples, is they are a part of the second school of thought written about below.
In the 4th installment to our 12 Weeks to a Happier Marriage series, HWC contributor, Kim Hall, shares why there are two schools of thought on this oh so important topic – and how one helps to create a happier marriage.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
There tends to be two opposing schools of thought on having great expectations.
The first recommends having no or low expectations. That way, you’ll never be disappointed, and when something good happens, you are always surprised.
The second promotes shooting for the moon, as the old saying goes, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
According to Cognitive Neuroscientist Tali Sharot, it turns out there is truth to that old saying. In her TED Talk The Optimism Bias, Sharot reports people who have great expectations always feel better overall.
In order for these high hopes to positively impact your marriage, however, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.
1. Set your expectations optimistically. Optimism, like its close sibling pessimism, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be sure your perspective is set to positive.
2. Share your expectations with your spouse. As Keith at Black and Married with Kids notes, unspoken expectations can wreak havoc on a marriage. Alternatively, when you share and agree upon your outlook, you have harnessed the Power of Two.
3. Enjoy the anticipation as well as the achievement. Nicholas Sparks said it best in Three Weeks with my Brother: “Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.”
4. Respond with ability, whatever the results. There may be setbacks along the way that require conversations and maybe even a change in plans. For those talks, bypass the arguments and get to the heart of the matter as Fawn recommends. Developing and practicing an attitude of gratitude helps soften these challenges as well, helping to keep your mind and heart open to possibilities.
5. Learn from your experiences. Each time you go through this process, you gain more wisdom, knowledge, and practice. Take time to step back, ask yourselves what you could do differently and better the next time, and do just that.
Having great expectations for your marriage is not the wishful thinking of fairy tale land. Rather, it is a deep expression of your love and respect for each other.
As Earl Nightingale wrote, “You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own “acres of diamonds.”
It’s your marriage—make it shine!
Comment: What great expectations have made your marriage happier?
May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim, your personal Sherpa of Joy at Too Darn Happy.
THE NEW YORK TIMES® BEST-SELLING BOOK: It’s been described as, “Like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage.” Make sure to check out the Happy Wives Club book. I had the great honor of traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, interviewing couples happily married 25 years or more, with 1 mission only: to find out what makes marriages happy…and keeps them that way. It’s a marriage book line none other. Guaranteed.
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