Have you ever wondered what makes or breaks a marriage?
Perhaps 'self-expansion' might be a crucial part of the equation. Dubbed by psychologist Arthur Aron, self-expansion occurs when your relationship adds excitement and interest to your life.
Arun and researchers at Stony Brook University asked a group of couples to perform a set of monotonous exercises, and they asked another group of couples to perform silly, fun exercises (such as being tied together and crawling across a mat).
After performing the exercises, the couples were asked to rate their relationship satisfaction. Those who had performed the fun exercises together rated their satisfaction with their partner as higher than those couples who only performed the boring tasks.
It's easy to apply the wisdom of this study to your own relationship. Getting out of your comfort zone, being playful, and trying new things can help you reconnect with the fun and spontaneity of being in love.
Just as happy couples have certain things in common, unhappy couples have things in common as well. Psychologist and relationship researcher, Dr. John Gottman, found four behaviors that predict divorce. These include:
Criticism: There is nothing wrong with expressing your needs or feelings to your partner. However, the way that you deliver these feelings is very important. When you criticize your partner, you attack who he is at his core. You attack his personality, his performance as a husband, and his self-worth.
Criticism: Do you ever think before you talk? Now my sister is going to be pouting for the next month about your dumb little comment!
Feedback: I know you were only joking, but my sister doesn't have a very thick skin. Can you please apologize to her so we can all be on good terms again?
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