Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott make a confession at the start of their guest post below. So I thought it only right that I make a confession of my own.
We are on day four of our Making Happy marriages series with only one day remaining, and this post so far, is my favorite.
This amazing couple and #1 New York Times best-selling authors give us a peak into their own marriage, and how these 5 proven happiness boosters for couples, improved their marriage.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
We’ve got a confession to make. When we wrote Making Happy, we wrote it for ourselves. Not that we were unhappy in our marriage. Not by a long shot.
We’re coming up on our 30th anniversary and could not be more grateful for our relationship. It’s been a blast. But we are maximizers. We want it to be the best it can be. And if there’s more happiness that can be had – the deep, meaningful, and abiding kind – count us in.
So we set off on a quest. We wanted to climb the gargantuan mountain of happiness research and see what we could find specifically for us. Well, we hit the mother-load.
We uncovered several counter-intuitive things we could do to take our happiness to new heights.
We put them into practice. They not only worked, they worked near miracles. We soon saw that just a minor adjustment could make a world of difference – not just to better our mood, but to better our relationship.
That’s why we’re so excited to share the news with couples like you. We want to show you how to make happy together.
It’s easier than you might think.
Here’s just a bit on the “happiness boosters” that have proven to move the needle in our relationship and we’re confident they’ll do the same for you.
1. Get Grateful
Dr. Robert Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for more than a decade and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on it – says this: Studies show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25 percent. Think of that! Gratitude can instantly and measurably improve your relationship. We dare you to think of three things right now that you are deeply grateful for in your spouse. It’s sure to instantly make you happier.
2. Get Out of Your Rut
Dinner and a movie again? That’s fun. But researchers at State University of New York at Stony Brook tested to see what happens when you get couples to break the monotony of married life, specifically testing would it rekindle romance and boost their happy factor.
They had half of their recruited couples do a mundane activity together while the others did a crazy obstacle course while connected to each other by Velcro. Was there a difference between the two groups? You bet. The Velcro couples made far more positive comments and reported being happier.
3. Dream Together
The moment a couple quits looking to the future together is the moment they become vulnerable to dissatisfaction. This is not a sentimental saying. It’s backed up by research. A survey of more than 1,400 married people by Utah State University found that couples who regularly discuss their long-range plans are more likely to stay happily married. Why? Because talking about your shared future communicates that you both plan on being there together.
4. Master the Magic Ratio
In scientific studies of marriage it’s literally called the Michelangelo effect. In subtle ways, we reinforce patterns in each other via countless little interactions – positive or negative moments. That sculpting can either reveal more of your partner by celebrating who he or she is or it can hold them captive.
Happy relationships, noted psychologist John Gottman, are characterized by a ratio of 5:1. This means that for every negative statement or behavior like criticizing or nagging, there must be five positive statements given. Gottman calls it “the magic ratio” and he and his colleagues predicted whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce by scoring their positive and negative interactions in one 15-minute conversation between each husband and wife. Ten years later, the follow-up revealed that they had predicted divorce with 94 percent accuracy.
5. Be Intimate
Perhaps the lamest excuse we ever hear for a couple getting a divorce is, “We just seemed to drift apart.” Excuse us, but there is no drifting. It is a series of decisions, choices, and attitudes that distance a couple. “It is not a lack of love,” said Friedrich Nietzche, “but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
Incidentally, the social scientific evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of divorces occur in relatively low-conflict marriages. A malaise in marriage sets in. And that’s due to a lack of emotional intimacy. It turns out after reviewing hundreds of research studies on the various factors that predict stable, happy marriages, scientists are converging on an unexpected primary factor: friendship. In fact, emotional intimacy of friendship trumps romance.
Gallup’s research indicates that a couple’s friendship quality could account for 70 percent of overall marital satisfaction. In fact, the emotional intimacy that a married couple shares is said to be five times more important than their physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy is one of the most vital wellsprings of happiness a couple can ever find.
You’ll find more about all of these tips and many, many more in our new book, Making Happy. Not only that, we’ll provide you with a 21-Day Happiness Plan that makes it super easy to put all of it painlessly into practice.