Many studies show that having a good primary relationship with a significant other or spouse is one of the best ways to achieve happiness.
A massive University research project described as the most comprehensive study of marriage happiness to date, says that there is a single fact or characteristic that has an impact on whether relationships are good enough and whether the people in them will ultimately be happy or frustrated.
We often think of things that are important for relationships as compatibility, growth, sexual attraction, intelligence, wisdom or shared values. However, this study found that the single attribute is KINDNESS. The study included combing through data of 2,500 long term married couples together twenty (20) years or more to boil this down to this one characteristic.
The research found that people being happier in their relationship also reported that they had higher levels of agreeableness (be considerate and kind to others) and lower levels of emotional instability (a person who worries a lot). Surprisingly, whether couples had common interests or similar personalities did not have much effect at all on happiness. Instead of looking for what you may consider to be true compatibility, the bigger and maybe smarter question is, is the person you are dating nice or do they have a lot of anxiety? It is those attributes that appear to matter more.
So what if you are already in a long term relationship? Relationships are made of an infinite number of small interactions, and if a couple can be conscious of those interactions and be active listeners with empathy, expressing warmth and interest to one’s spouse or partner, can make a significant difference, even if the dance of your relationship is well established. It doesn’t mean you cannot wake up and change how you interact with one another. If we can all respond to our partner with interest and warmth, even if we cannot do that all time, then show that we are interested in hearing about it but may not be able to listen to the issue at a particular moment. When we make a misstep or mistake as we will all do, own up to it and recognize it and apologize for it.
Again, being kind and nurturing to a partner and the multitude of simple acts of kindness can go an incredibly long way.
Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Bill Murphy, Jr., of Inc. and Getty Images.