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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 April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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