Note: This post by Mariana Ashley sheds some interesting light into what makes a marriage fulfilling. More importantly, it may give you something to do to make your marriage more engaged and happy. Be generous with your wife or husband!
Often, a happily married couple seems like a mystery.
How is it that Mr. and Mrs. X seem to get along so well, seem to work together to make their partnership work, and are somehow, after so many years, still deeply in love?
While there is certainly no set magic formula for a successful marriage, researchers have long tried to figure out the basic characteristics that make up the majority of healthy marriages.
The latest of this body of research suggests that, of all things, generosity plays an instrumental part in happy marital relationships.
Is Generosity Better Than Sex?
The New York Times recently reported on this research, conducted by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. Over 2,000 married men and women took a test to determine how generous they were to their partners.
Some of the questions asked of participants included:
- “How often do you perform small acts of kindness to your partner (like making them coffee in the morning)?”
- “How often do you forgive your partner for his or her mistakes and failings?”
- “How often do express respect and admiration to your partner?”
- “How often do express affection and love to your partner?”
The results of the survey showed that of those who scored above average on the generosity test, 50 percent reported being “very happy”, while of those who scored below average, only 14 percent reported being “very happy.”
These findings were published in the University of Virginia’s State of Our Unions report, which looks at different factors that affect marriages and families in the United States.
Great, So What Can You Do About It?
So now that we know how important a role generosity can play in having a happy marriage, more important than even communication and satisfying sex, what can we do to further implement generosity into our married lives?
For starters, it’s important to remember that true generosity means going above and beyond. That is to say, many couples have already understood duties that they carry out, but doing something extra on a daily basis—even something as small as making a cup of coffee.
Compliments and expressions of physical affection are also very important aspects of generosity. Especially when a married couple has been together for several years, these little tokens expressing love are often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily stress from working or raising kids.
Compliments and expressions of love work best when they are specific. For example, it’s quite normal to say “I love you” or “you look nice today,” but going above and beyond these automatic phrases by complimenting specific actions and character traits demonstrates that you care and that you pay attention.
Whenever we think of generosity, there may be an inclination to equate generosity with substantial expense. But as the University of Virginia research shows, and perhaps many of your own experiences suggest, rewarding generosity, the kind that keeps marriages happily intact, is about taking time out for the little things in life.
What have you done for your spouse lately that’s made him or her feel special and appreciated? Please share in the comments.
And if you need some ideas, be sure to check out these 74 simple things!
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.