Tag Archives: Generosity

Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage

Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage? (Try These 4 Steps)

Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage

Time sure flies by when you’re enjoying a good read!

I can’t believe we’re already at day 3 of our 5-part marriage series hosted by #1 New York Times bestselling authors of Making Happy, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott.

I got a sneak peak at day 45′s post and if you’ve ever felt distant from your spouse, or know someone experiencing that right now, make sure to return here tomorrow Friday at the same time.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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We were sitting in an airport terminal last week and observed an older couple waiting to board the same plane. She leaned over and asked him a question, looking directly into his eyes.

We didn’t hear what either of them said, but he smiled and patted her on the knee. A minute later, she got up and brought him a cup of coffee. He looked surprised and delighted. 

It wasn’t dramatic. In fact, it was barely perceptible. But this couple did something we uncovered this past year while researching our new book, Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage. And this little something makes a huge difference.

 What did they do?

 They demonstrated what some call “the best marital life insurance policy there is” – small acts of emotional generosity.

Researchers from the University of Virginia recently studied generosity, defined as “giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly,” in nearly 3,000 marriages.

They were looking for small acts of service, like making them coffee in the morning or offering a little back rub — and researchers quizzed men and women on how often they behaved generously toward their partners.

 The bottom line?

Couples who are emotionally generous with each other are the happiest couples on the planet. In fact, the more generous they are with each other, the happier they become.

We don’t know about you, but this news inspired us. We want an emotionally generous marriage. And if we’re honest, we’ve got a long way to go on that front.

 We’re still working on it but we’re getting better.

 Much better.

 How? We’re practicing the principles we’ve learned. 

Four Principles for an Emotionally Generous Marriage:

1. Put away the measuring scales or the scoreboard.

If you’re keeping track of who gets what (“he went golfing so I’m buying new shoes”) you’ll never get there. As Saint Theresa observed, “When one loves, one does not calculate.”

2. Focus on what your spouse likes.

If you know it would mean a lot to your partner to gas up the car or turn down the bed or sweep the porch or watch a particular movie or play a video game together, then that’s where you want to put your energy. Generosity works best when it signals to your spouse that you know them and their personal desires.

3. Don’t neglect the intangibles.

Sometimes a spirit of generosity is found when we give our spouse the benefit of the doubt by not questioning their reasoning. It’s also found when we give our spouse credit for a good idea. And it’s certainly found when we give our time. A generous spirit simply sets selfishness aside and gives.

4. Give without expecting anything in return.

 This is crucial. Generosity is never a down payment on a gift you’re wanting. Generosity is only as valid as the motivation behind it. It must come from the heart with no strings attached. To paraphrase Bob Hope, if your generosity does not come from your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.


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