Think you know the rules for a healthy, happy shaadi? Well, think again! Some of these secrets from pleased couples may make you rethink how you relate to your partner. As compiled from the New York Times and Reader’s Digest, arm yourself with the fundamental knowledge on matrimony.
They fall asleep at the same time
Wives who are happier with their marriage overlapped with their husband’s sleep schedule about 90% of the time, according to a recent University of Pittsburgh study. Women who weren’t as happy with their marriages overlapped with as little as half of their husbands’ times asleep, the study found. If your schedule doesn’t let you go to bed at the same time as your partner, try to find other times during the day to connect, shares study author a psychologist and sleep researcher, Heather Gunn, adding, “The person feels a need for more closeness or security. We don’t innately need to go to bed at the same time; the desire usually comes from someplace else.”
They’re not afraid to go to bed mad
Even the happiest couples will fall asleep while they’re still fuming over a fight, says Shaunti Feldhahn, social researcher and author of The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference. Trying to force a resolution can lead to saying words you could regret in the morning. The trick, Feldhahn reveals, is to revisit the issue the next day with a clear head, instead of ignoring or forgetting about it. Of the 1,000 couples she talked to, the partners who rated their marriages the happiest were eight times less likely than those with unhappier relationships to pretend the fight had never happened when they woke up.
They each have a sturdy squad
Truth be told — regular guys’ and girls’ nights out make your marriage stronger. People with large friendship networks are typically happier in relationships than those who focus all their energy on romantic partnerships, says Pepper Schwartz, co-author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship. “They aren’t as isolated and dependent only on each other,” shares Schwartz, adding, “It doesn’t take away from the relationship, but enriches it.”
They’re not brutally honest
This one might come as a surprise, but read on! Telling the truth is imperative in a relationship, but make sure to use a kind and caring tone and not be too blunt. Feldhahn’s research has shown that the happiest couples are considerate of a spouse’s feelings when expressing something that might be hard to hear. “Some couples talk to their partners like they never would with a close friend,” Feldhahn says. She further reinforces, “The happiest couples used the same tone of voice in private as they would with a friend in public.”
They don’t always put their kids first
Of course, no one needs to be told that having kids — of any age — is fatiguing, but focusing all your energy on your children leaves little time to give your significant other attention, explains Irina Firstein, a licensed individual and couples therapist in New York. “Couples with kids can’t just come home and be together,” she says. “When the kids go to bed, that time becomes very precious.” Make that one-on-one time matter by staying off your phone and not wordlessly zoning out in front of the TV. If you do want to catch up on your favourite daily soap, make it meaningful by sharing that time with your spouse, even if that means you have to explain them the never-ending plot!
They assume breaking up is not an option
Defenses against a breakup, like setting aside money in a secret separate bank account, demonstrate that you don’t trust your partner, Feldhahn says. The happiest couples she interviewed tended to share bank accounts, make themselves emotionally vulnerable, and never bring up divorce, she says. Doing so makes couples more likely to work through problems instead of contemplating ending their relationship. “All the things you do to protect yourself builds a little wall,” Feldhahn says. “The happy couples did the ‘foolish’ thing of jumping in completely with no escape hatch.”
They keep score — of the finer things
While keeping an account of everything that your significant other does wrong is a destructive habit, noticing and appreciating the good things about them can start a cycle of nice gestures from both partners. Taking note of your partner’s loving acts will make you more likely to do something sweet in return, Feldhahn says. “It starts with noticing what the other person is giving,” Feldhahn explains, adding, “Because the happiest couples are keeping score, it’s natural that they want to give something back.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2016.
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