Most couples try to see their partner's
point of view when they disagree. But the trick to marital bliss might not be looking at an argument from the other side, a forthcoming study suggests, but from outside it altogether. Northwestern University social psychologist Eli Finkel
and his colleagues asked married couples to spend just seven minutes writing about a recent fight with their spouse from the point of view of a neutral observer, three times over the course of a year. (We're envisioning a neutral observer in the cheap seats describing, say, a high-school play.) When the year was up, those couples had more satisfying, trusting and passionate relationships than couples who didn't do the writing exercise—not a bad return for the time it takes to watch a sitcom. To try it yourself, find the writing prompts on page 6 of Finkel's paper here
, he says. "Then get out a piece of paper and a pen—and get started!"