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6 Good Predictors of Marital Happiness

6 Good Predictors of Marital Happiness

As much as we all want a long lasting marriage, not all relationships today come with a lifetime guarantee. Anyone who has been in a couple of failed relationships will agree that finding an “ideal partner” can be a long and painful process, far from our unrealistic expectations fed by romantic movies and TV shows.

The truth is: not everyone can be perfect all of the time. We all have flaws and weaknesses. We are going to disappoint our partners at some time or another. But the real question here is how much do you love the person to keep the relationship going? How do you know if they’re the person who’s going to make you happy for all of your life?

According to Dr. John Gottman, author of the book The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work, creating a lasting marriage is surprisingly simple. Gottman says, “Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other from overwhelming their positive ones.” This is what makes most marriages last and what separates happily married couples from the multitude of couples who stay married just for their kid’s sake.

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So, what are the actions and values in a couple that are good predictors of marital happiness? Read on to find out.

1. How You Show Gratitude

Are you someone who can easily say “thank you” to your spouse? Does your spouse do the little things that matter, like opening the door or buying you flowers? How frequently you express gratitude can have a powerful impact on your relationship.

According to a recent study published in the journal Personal Relationships, the secret to having a better marriage is to show gratitude. Research conducted at University of Georgia used a telephone survey where 468 married couples were asked about their communication, finances, and how they express gratitude with their spouses. The study’s result emphasizes how spousal gratitude is the most consistent predictor of marital quality. Couples who express gratitude more often were less affected by common marital stressors such as miscommunication, financial issues, and in-law problems.

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2. Your Ability to Compromise and Admit Mistakes

In any relationship, there is bound to be fights and misunderstandings. The couple who knows how to apologize always has the best chances of keeping their marriage intact. Admitting mistakes is not a sign of loss; in fact, the ability to compromise for the other is a proof of love.

According to Bill Farr, author of The Power of Personality Types in Love and Relationships, a couple’s ability to compromise and give up their pride defines their relationship. If both partners are able to see that they’re not always right and become more accepting of each other’s mistakes, their marriage will prosper. Sure, romance and passion create memorable moments, but it is always compromise and respect that actually keeps the two of you together.

3. The Tone of Your Voice

The phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” might seem cliché when we talk about marital issues, but when it comes to communication, the tone of your voice holds as much weight as the words you use when addressing your partner in an argument or a discussion. Experts believe that how you talk and discuss problems with your partner has important implications on the health of your relationship. Because it’s not just what words you use to converse problems with your partner that counts, how you deliver them is also important.

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This underlying notion has helped a group of researchers create a new computer algorithm that can predict an outcome of marriage based only on the tone of voice couples use when speaking to each other. The algorithm has a remarkable 79% accuracy and did a better job predicting marital success compared to relationship experts. The algorithm can assess the couple’s speech by breaking the recordings into acoustic features and using speech processing techniques, such as looking at the pitch intensity and warbles in voice that could indicate emotions.

4. How You Spend Leisure Time

Couples who often spend leisure time with each other have the best relationships. If you’re someone who’s happiest when with your partner, that is a good sign of marital happiness.

In a study involving 250 married couples, results found that the best predictor of marital satisfaction was the amount of time spent alone with the spouse. Wives who spend most of their time with their husbands were the happiest. Happier couples are people who are determined to spend time together despite their varying interests in hobbies or constraints like kids and work. Sometimes it’s just not the amount of time you spend together, but also the quality.

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5. How You Give Your Attention

How long do you need to get your spouse’s attention when you call them? If most of the time they respond back to you immediately, it’s a good sign. If; however, they always seem uninterested and require you to repeat or say something incredible just to make them interested – watch out! A partner who doesn’t value and give attention to their spouse can cause the marriage to wane and go down the drain.

As Tony Robbins says, “Relationships magnify the experience of life.” If we don’t take part and give value to our relationships, we might lose important life experiences that could give way to a happier and more fulfilling marriage. Couples who have real connection don’t have to bid for each other’s attention. They have overflowing amounts of it to give each other with no hesitance or waiting for the other to respond.

6. Your Acceptance

In the first stage of couple relationships, most of us (if not all) see our partners in their best light. We are always love-struck, filled with romance and lust. However, as years go by, you will see their imperfections. All those throes of passion will diminish by time, as our object of romantic focus will fail to keep up with our expectations.

Then again, a happy marriage is not about being wed to the perfect guy or girl – it is to be wed with a person whose weaknesses you accept and see beyond. A happy marriage is about expecting nothing but love in return. When we learn to accept ourselves, it’s too easy to accept our spouses as well. Loving then becomes effortless because it stems from within you.

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Armela Escalona

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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