Functional Marital Happiness Predictors
Weddings are awesome. Who doesn’t love a million pretty, sweet-smelling flowers? Little, hand-picked vivacious and pink decorated girls holding the flowing bridal skirt, all looking blissed with huge grins and glowing cheeks. The white doves and rice being thrown around in a fashion reminiscent of the Parable of the Sower. The flute glasses and bubbly champagne… Oh, and a big, old cake, sitting high and doomed before a glowing audience. Who wouldn’t love all that? Unfortunately, wedding, no matter how colorful, is not even close to the functional marital happiness predictors.
It’s all pomp and glory until the bride hurls her bouquet over her head or flung over the right shoulder. Then the couple slides away beaming in a balloon-studded limousine or yacht or plane, depending on the afforded budget, with ‘Just Married’ plastered in red on its bum.
Then the work starts.
It is a harrowing task keeping marriage vows. To illustrate this fact, statistics show that 50% of couples in the western world don’t hang around long enough to honor the “until death do us part” they mumbled in voices breaking with emotion. The happiness goes away and leaves behind a creaky, painful union the pain of whose members can only be fixed by a divorce attorney. And so departs the promise of marital happiness. But there are those who stay married. For this group, the union endures more often for the kids and social validation than for the joy of companionship. A curious person might therefore ask: “How do I measure my happiness once I get married? Or “How do they stay so happy after twenty years of marriage? Are they genuinely happy?”
Well, there are six functional predictors of marital happiness. You will be surprised that money is not on the list:
How You Show Gratitude, Especially for the Little Things
They say that it is the little things that count. There are many reasons for this assertion. In the context of marriage, the little things count because when they are done and appreciated for both husband and wife, life together becomes what it is supposed to be. So, does he open the car door for you when he picks you from work or does he stay in the car? Does he put his hand on the small of your back and usher you through the door when you leave for the routine Friday evening dinner outing? Does she say love and playfully poke her finger on your belly before the longest work day of your life (which is every day if you have a belly)? Now, do you say thank you, and truly mean it, for each of these little things?
If yes, you are probably happy in your marriage. If no, I then doubt you are.
The journal Personal Relationships published a recent study in which 468 married couples were correspondents to a survey on happiness in marriages. Along with gratitude to their spouses, communication and finances were tabled as factors for happiness in their marriages. The study revealed that for couples who showed each other gratitude, there was far less gloom in the marriage due to finances. Not even miscommunication or any other common married-couple stressors beat ingratitude.
Compromising and Admitting Mistakes
Marriage is abnormal without an occasional disagreement, even shouting match. That is why most couples remain ignorant of the fact that the man/woman’s ability to compromise and apologize, even when they deserve the apology, is a major reason why their marriage is still intact. Most individuals choose to shout down their couples—who are already trying to shout them down—because they feel justified to yell. A whacking good shout may be irresistible when one feels like a steam cooker. Yet the pressure one lets out through a yell breaks down their marriage almost as effectively as it calms them down.
Compromise does not hurt if it serves to end pain before it starts. It may feel like a tiny, little sting to one’s ego. But when there’s no compromise, a marriage grows to lack the peace and happiness it is meant for. Then you start on a hollow life filled with emotional pain.
According to Bill Farr, author of The Power of Personality Types in Love and Relationships, compromise is everything. Romance and passion may be memory-makers of a relationship, but compromise and mutual understanding are the mainstays of a marriage. An understanding that one is not always right is the open secret to a solid marriage.
And that is a rule.
The Tone of Your Voice
The delivery of one’s words is as important as the choice of these words, experts say. Say you are an engineer. The “I love you” you say earnestly before leaving the house counts more than the one you shout on phone above the din of the excavator. Real and romantic voice is vital. Here is a good, old aphorism: It is not what you say but how you say it that matters. It is absolutely cliché, right? Well, those who follow this aphorism can tell you that their marriages are almost always fit as a fiddle. Those who avoid it remain blind to why their marriages are not working, even though they work on the marriages and work like slaves.
Experts have created an algorithm that is touted as one of the functional marital happiness predictors, with an astounding 79% accuracy to illustrate the power of the tone of voice. More astounding is the fact that the algorithm makes the prediction—which is better than most experts can manage—using only the tone couples use to speak to each other. The algorithm breaks down speech into acoustic components like pitch and warbles in the voice to indicate emotions and make predictions.
So next time you communicate, be it a discussion or argument, remember that the way you say it is as important as what you’re saying. If that is too much to remember, then remember that a gentle soothing tone can never go wrong.
How You Give Your Attention
Most men are very familiar with the statement “I need more of your attention”. Sometimes it is yelled to a one’s face. Just as often, it is expressed in a sulk a long face when the call from the work or the boys/girls comes in. In both cases, a spouse should listen to this statement and react to it immediately and accordingly. If one picks the call on its first ring, their marriage is most likely healthy with lots and lots of happiness. If, on the other hand, one has put up with several unanswered calls or say sacrifice to get their spouse’s attention—little happiness. No happiness, most likely.
In a marriage, the companionship one offers should not be a job one wakes up to and sleeps on every evening. It is supposed to be a pleasurable experience. Like all relationships, Tony Robbins says, a marriage is supposed to magnify the experience of life. The ease with which attention flows between spouses determines how happy there daily life in marriage will be.
How You Spend Your Leisure Time
Leisure time spent together guarantees and indicates relationship’s health and happiness. People have been known to take a leave of their spouse to “hang out with the boys” or “spent some time with the girls”. This move is conventionally understood to be a break from the marriage so as not to spend “too much time” together. Now, don’t you think it’s totally weird for one to mostly break from a person they committed to spend their entire lives with? Well, experts think it is. Experts also emphasize that leisure time with the spouse is way healthier than time with your buddies if well spent. Essentially, how much leisure time one spends with their spouse is a very reliable index for how happy they can be with the spouse. A study conducted across a sample of 250 married couples supports the claim above.
According to the study, the amount of happiness wives registered was directly proportional to the amount of “us time” they had with their husbands. In other words, the more time they spent in each other’s company, the happier the couple. Happier couples registered more time spent together despite notable differences in professional commitments and hobbies. It was right then to conclude that the more [quality] time spent—couples are willing to spend—together, the happier they are.
Accepting that he did not snore as much as he does now when he was younger can conserve a lot of happiness for their marriage. If only she can find a way to see beyond the snoring, better yet, make an attempt to fix it. She could make light of it over breakfast every third morning until he releases the guilt and knows she is still grateful to have him. Changes come into marriages with time. Nothing stays the same unless it is the blue in the sky. And really, there is no blue in the sky according to science so, yeah, nothing stays the same.
If he accepts that if she puts less effort into her looks today than she did before, he’ll understand that she did it for him when she was younger. Now she has to do it for the kids and the bills. Accepting the imperfections that come out over the years is healthy for the relationship. It is like walking the tight rope over the very deep chasm of a gloomy marriage. Yet, this is undoubtedly one of those functional marital happiness predictors you should be glad to uphold. Therefore, the much one accepts the changes in their spouse determine how satisfied they stay with them.
Ultimately, you will find that spending free time together is one of the functional marital happiness predictors it means greater happiness in the marriage. The romance may go away with the looks. Obsession may evaporate with the frivolity of youthful passion. While these things go away, a sober, steady, and respectful understanding of one’s value should endure. You may not see the square jaw now. Do you see the good father?