A Massachusetts marriage takes work. Everyone knows this. But what many don’t realize is that they might be working on the wrong things. Or even working on the right things in the wrong way.
In our culture, there’s so much focus on getting together rather than on being together and staying happy together. Looking at positive psychology research and seeing what is it that can actually lead to a happier marriage.
Positive psychology is the science of strengths and looking at what makes individuals and couples thrive. The research shows that, if you’re focusing more on growing the nuggets of what’s good, you have a better chance of having a happy relationship. In other words, know your strengths and spend time maintaining them.
Here, then, are five tips that will lead to better days for you and your spouse.
1. Cultivate a Healthy Passion
That idea of starry-eyed lovers who are forever on each other’s minds and obsess over each other daily? Total B.S. In fact, this thinking is detrimental, as it can give rise to the idea that obsessive passion is a healthy thing.
In the beginning of a relationship, you can’t stop thinking about your partner, you might be distracted at work, you might cancel plans with friends to see your girlfriend or future spouse. But if that continues months or years into the relationship and you’re not seeing your friends anymore, you’re not engaging in activities that you did before the relationship, and you can’t focus on anything else, that could be more of an obsessive passion.
In order to create a healthy passion, be sure to make room in your mind for your other interests and other people. Then, when you are with your partner, find ways to connect over things that you both enjoy. It’s about forging a deeper bond, not trying to be competitive, so don’t choose something that you really like and enjoy and your wife has no interest in. The idea is to connect, not to compete.”
2. Embrace the Upside
At the beginning of a relationship, positive emotions are flowing with regularity. Excitement, joy, passion are all right at your fingertips. But, as the relationship progresses and you both get more comfortable with each other, some people expect that those positive emotions will just happen without any effort. Not so.
The research shows that the happiest couples with the most sustainable marriages are the ones who actively cultivate them all the time and prioritize them as opposed to waiting around for them to happen because, like with anything, the newness of something, those heightened positive emotions, the level and the frequency just naturally don’t occur as much as in the beginning of a relationship, the falling-in-love stage.
So, couples in long-term relationships who are looking to cultivate positive emotions have to ask themselves what can they do each day, what activities or actions can they do in order to keep positive emotions flowing in a marriage.
One activity that researchers is to create a ‘Positive Relationship Portfolio.’ And yes, it is actually a portfolio: of pictures, mementos, and other such items that mean something in your relationship. The point of the exercise is to devote time to thinking about the fond memories, which is extremely important. However you do it is up to you.
3. Savor Experiences
Positive emotions and moments are fleeting. It’s important to slow down and take time to enjoy them. “esearch shows that if you spend at least 15 minutes savoring something you could increase your satisfaction. One way to do that is sharing secrets with one another. Ask your spouse about a favorite childhood experience, or a secret they never told anyone or big idea or dream they always had for the future. The point is this: The more you open up and talk about these sorts of things, the deeper a bond you’re able to create.
4. Locate and Focus on Character Strengths
What are your partner’s strengths? Do you know? Positive Psychology researchers have identified 24 character traits that people possess in different measures. Things like creativity, curiosity, zest, love of learning, leadership. Researchers recommend taking a Character Strengths test with your partner at: http://www.viacharacter.org. Then, once you’ve determined what your strengths are, you can have conversations with each other about them. From there, you both can go on a “strength date.” Sounds weird right? But the idea is sound: each of you to pick a top strength and go on a date that plays to and satisfies both of them.
5. Emphasize Gratitude
If your partner feels taken advantage of and not acknowledged, they’re not going to be satisfied. And just saying “thanks” isn’t enough.
An example: If your spouse gives you a gift or does something kind for you, don’t just thank them, but also say something like, “You really know what I need and you’re such a good listener.” or “You’re so thoughtful, and I can see how thoughtful you are with our children and the way you are at work.”
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.