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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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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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