Marriage and happiness

29 09 2014

We are evolutionarily, and biologically wired to form social connections. And these social connections boost our well-being. The most important of our relationships are romantic relationships.

Marriage – it’s the cause of much happiness and otherwise too when it doesn’t turn out well. Some studies conclude that married people are happier compared to unmarried people. There is also another recent finding that says that once married but now divorced people are sadder than those who are either married or never married.

The question is – is it the institution or the people? Put in other words, does marriage makes people happy or happy people tend to have good marriages? A research study has shown that on an average it takes 2 years after marriage for people to come back to their baseline level of happiness. Hmm..

Nevertheless, a happy marriage is what most people seek. John Gottman has done a lot of research and conducted several studies trying to figure out the determinants and breakers of marriage stability.  A study conducted by him along with Robert Levenson focused on the communication skills between the couple that affect the marriage. By just watching a 3 -min muted video clipping of a couple chatting, he can predict with about 90% accuracy whether they will stay together after 6 years. Remarkable. Isn’t it? This technique is called thin slicing. He says that how couples interact on a day-to-day basis conveys so much about their relationship. According to him, there are four things, the occurrence of which can predict marriage instability or divorce:

  • Contempt
  • Criticism
  • Stonewalling
  • Defensiveness

So, what makes a stable and happy marriage?

  • Humor
  • Gratitude
  • Appreciation
  • Forgiveness
  • Emotional disclosure

Now that the wisdom is out in the open, make the best of use of it! 😉

Well, of course, not all problems of a marriage can be solved by these tips but undoubtedly these will definitely help. The first and foremost thing that is essential, before one attempts to apply these invaluable dos and don’ts, is  one’s belief in marriage and the desire to make it work, without which everything becomes pretentious and superficial.

Part 4 of Science of Happiness series.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3

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8 responses

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