Happy life = a lot less strife

Only 30 per cent of marriages are healthy and happy, relationship experts say. Is yours one?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may be encouraged to know love can even prevent real-life heart problems.

Married couples are at lower risk for heart or blood vessel problems, couples data from the 20-year U.S. Marital Instability Over the Life Course study tells us.

A spouse’s support and encouragement may encourage people to eat better, exercise more or simply be more blissful. Even those with high cholesterol or diabetes benefit from being married.

How do long-surviving couples stay in love?

Marital stability springs from being kind and generous, Seattle therapist Dr. John Gottman believes. Instead of zeroing in on a partner’s mistakes, happy couples find moments of gratitude.

They also make “bids” for attention, such as inviting a partner to admire their efforts. Successful couples accept these bids, while those who don’t turn away and ignore their partner more often.  The University of Washington “Love Lab” founder discovered happy couples responded favorably to bids about 87 per cent of the time.

Physiology also plays a part. Gottman reports a 2003 Ohio State University experiment found newlyweds with the highest adrenaline levels while arguing were less likely to be happily married 10 years later (John Gottman and Julie Gottman, “The Natural Principles of Love” (2017) 9 J Fam Theory Rev 7 12).

For a fun relationship app, go to Gottman Card Decks at: www.gottman.com/couples/apps.

Gottman’s theories support what psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser and Choice Theory instructor Carleen Glasser have to say in Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage. They recommend seven caring habits for couples:

  1. Supporting your partner through difficult times.
  2. Encouraging your partner to succeed.
  3. Listening, the “most asked for and least given” habit.
  4. Accepting your partner as they are.
  5. Trusting your partner enough to tell the truth without hurting them.
  6. Respecting your partner by focusing on the things you respect in each other.
  7. And negotiating differences by giving up something to get something.

New York psychologist Ty Tashiro is on board with the Gottmans and Glassers. Author of The Science of Happily Ever After, Tashiro insists that kindness or “agreeableness” matters.

Kind partners “care more about your perspective and are more likely to understand your perspective,” Tashiro told Business Insider. “They will trust that they can give freely and that, in the long run, you will give equally back.”

Taking in gratitude is so important couples are advised to “amplify” it by Romance and Research workshop presenters and Happy Together authors Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski. Savoring and luxuriating in the richness of gratitude can make your partner feel good about their gift to you.

This Valentine’s, and every day, think about how kindness, generosity and gratitude can make not only your relationship, but your life, healthier and happier.

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Same-sex couples have a different experience.

Although their health care benefits increased after marriage, most reported their health itself hadn’t changed, according to a U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research study.

Researchers for the Vanderbilt University LGBT Policy Lab used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for 2000 to 2016, when same-sex marriages became legal.

Lead researcher and policy lab director Christopher Carpenter told LifeSiteNews (“Same-sex ‘marriage’ doesn’t improve LGBT health: Study”) it is too early to say if outcomes improve over time.

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If your relationship is not going the way you hoped, ClearWay Law family lawyers can help you mediate a resolution. Call 24/7 Lawyer Hotline at (877) 633-4038 or email info@clearwaylaw.com.