5 Scientifically Proven ways to Strengthen your Marriage!
How to not only LOVE your spouse, but LIKE them too!
At some point or another, all marriages get stuck in a rut. Sometimes we unknowingly work our way out of this rut, and sometimes we need to actively get through it.
Did you know that (according to a meta-analysis of 2,159 studies ) after marriage your sense of well-being dips?
That’s kind of a terrible thing to think about.
Question: Given this knowledge— Should we discourage people from getting married?
Question: Whyever not?
Answer: “It turns out that in the period before marriage, [a person’s sense of] well-being goes way up,” says Maike Luhmann, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in psychology in the Cacioppo Lab at the University of Chicago, and lead author of the study. “And so the well-being dive after marriage is, in fact, a return to the level you were at before the pre-wedding bliss period…”
What most marriages need is a boost. A way to bump up the well-being levels in each individual within the relationship. Everyone has their own love language, everyone has different ways that help them feel more or less appreciated, and more or less loved. No persons in this world are exactly the same! BUT, there are some things you can do that science is telling us will help almost every relationship.
1- Kiss Always. Scientists found that kissing is linked to happiness in a different way than sex is. There was this huge study done in the UK on approximately nine hundred couples and it showed that couples that kiss regularly, not just in the bedroom during bedroom activities, have MUCH stronger relationships. That kissing actually triggers a spot in a woman’s brain that heightens her sense of well-being. The study also showed that men who were often kissed felt more sexually satisfied even when they weren’t getting to actually participate in sexual intercourse regularly. So–
Kiss! and Kiss often.
2- Say Thank-you.
This seemingly simple strategy should be obvious. But many of us often forget to express gratitude for and to our spouses. Make it a point to tell your spouse each and every day, one thing, all it takes is ONE, one thing you are grateful that they do or did. I’ve personally found it to make a huge difference in my marital life and in my general outlook on life.
There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, from keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, to simply speaking aloud to your partner about the things you are grateful for, and going out of your way to show gratitude toward them when they do these things.
In an experiment where participants took note of things they were grateful for each day, their moods were improved just from this simple practice:
“The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several of the outcome measures across the three studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.“
3- Engage in new or exciting Physical activities TOGETHER.
It has now been scientifically proven that “Couples who play together, stay together”. A report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2012, showed that couples who engage in more new OR exciting activities together, are more happier in their relationships.The researchers actually had couples come into the lab and engage in exciting or mundane tasks. Couples in the exciting condition got strapped together with Velcro and had to crawl their way through an obstacle course while holding a pillow between them. Couples who got to take part in the Velcro obstacle course reported feeling happier in their relationships than couples who took part in the mundane activities (watching a movie together and talking to each other over a meal).
Novel and arousing activities are, well, arousing, which people can often attribute as attraction to their partner, reigniting that initial spark.
Engaging in these activities with your partner involves cooperation and provides a shared experience that can bring you closer together. Engaging in these activities with your partner also helps you extend the pleasure you get out of the activity to your relationship (when thinking about the activity, you’ll be thinking of doing that activity with your partner, which will link together excitement and your relationship).
And the thing is, you don’t need to go on a bungee-jumping date to make this “Positive experience attraction” happen.
The Research shows that “Any experience that generates excitement can be arousing.”
In one study, for example, males interacted with females on either a high-suspension bridge, or on level ground. The men reported they were more attracted to the females on the bridge, indicating that they misattributed the adrenaline and feelings from an arousing activity (being on the high bridge), with the feeling of being attracted to the female.
On top of the stated benefits of doing something new together, you’ll also be doing something physical! Exercise has such a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it is an effective strategy for overcoming depression. In fact an entire study cited in Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage focused on the effect exercise has in depression: three groups of patients treated their depression with medication, exercise, or a combination of the two. The results were shocking!
“Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent.”
In short, as Elle in Legally Blonde would remind us: “Exercise produces endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t just kill their husbands!”
Don’t kill your Hubby! Go do something physical and new! Need some ideas? Rock Climbing. Laser Tag. Bungee Jumping. Take a tennis or golf class together. Paintball. Go to your local dollar store and get Cowboys and Indian toys, then go play war at a park. Go take a Pottery Class. Swing Dancing Lessons. Tree-Climbing date. Play a competitive board game. Go shoot some hoops together- H.O.R.S.E anyone?
If you need more ideas, leave a message and I will oblige 🙂
4- Play video games together.
Remember when we said those “who play together, stay together”? Here’s some more proof of that.
A study done at Queensland University found that playing video games together actually strengthens relationships-
“We are seeing clear evidence of improvements in mood, stress reduction, increased feeling of competence and autonomy and really strong feelings of being connected with the person or persons they are playing with.”
The research showed that the type of game you play together makes a difference…
“Games that require lots of strategy, and require teamwork are best. Don’t play a game where you are fighting against each other, or on opposite teams…” Dr Johnson went on to point out “And while they’re playing, they’re chatting about things going on in their life – so it’s a communication experience at the same time.”
Boom! Go get a game up on your Wii or Xbox thing or whatever cool game device you currently have and get to strengthening your relationship!
5- Be Loyal to each other!.
Loyalty is a form of respect. Research has proven that successful marriage partners are “fiercely loyal” to each other. They keep their conversations with others and their social media use fully positive when referring to their spouse. They never do or say anything that approaches the appearance of impropriety, either virtually or physically. They show mutual respect for one another in all areas of their lives.
This quote states it clearly:
“Don’t talk bad about your husband. To anyone. Ever.”
You chose this man! You got a problem? Work it out directly with him. That’s a big part of what makes for a good marriage.
And I’d like to say with equal emphasis:
Don’t talk bad about your wife. To anyone. Ever.
You Chose her! You have a problem? Work it out with her and God directly. Don’t go complain to the world.
***And for just a moment I would like to step away from Science and delve into this loyalty and respect for your spouse thing a little deeper. It is so much easier to be loyal to your spouse when you respect them, and it is so much easier to respect your spouse when you think of them as literally the only person in the world who is exactly equal to you.
What do I mean by that? Well, in his book “Behold the Man”, Gerald N Lund said the following, and it has made ALL the difference in my views on marriage. It’s a bit long, but it’s definitely worth reading:
“The first marriage of all marriages [on this earth] was performed by God himself, between Father Adam and Mother Eve. Not only is this proof of the sanctity of marriage and it’s centrality for all mankind, but there is much in the account thereof which provides instruction for us.
When Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, he was alone. After a time, the Lord God, blessed be his name, made a profound declaration. Said he: ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’
Consider on that statement for a moment. That is a Divine Declaration. ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’
After declaring that it is not good for man to be alone, the Holy One of Israel made a second, most significant declaration. He said, ‘I shall make an help-meet for him.’
That is a most instructive term, ‘help meet.’ In the original Hebrew of the sacred writ, the phrase is ‘ezer knegdo’. SOME have translated that phrase to mean a “helper” or a “help mate.’ That is not true to the deeper meaning of the phrase. ‘Helper’ would imply a superior role for men and a helping or inferior role for women. Many feel that way, of course, and treat their wives as chattel, BUT that is not what the Creator of us all declared. ‘Knegdo” means to ‘meet’ or to have two things brought together. But it carries a much deeper connotation, where one finds something that is equal to something else. In other words, a ‘help meet’ is a person who helps us ‘meet ourselves,’ like looking into a mirror and seeing yourself.
What then follows is the creation of Eve. And here, too, there is much for us to learn from the sacred word:
The Lord God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam, and he took from his side a rib, and from that rib he created woman.
What can we learn from the story of the rib? I’ve heard it said that woman was taken from Adam’s side because it is closest to his heart, suggesting that she should walk beside him always. I am sure that is part of it. If Eve had been taken from Adam’s head, then she would rule over him. If she were taken from his foot, he would rule over her. If from his hand, she would be only a tool to do his bidding. To be taken from his side is beautiful imagery and teaches us much about how we are to treat our wives. But I think there is something much more profound than that…
Once Eve was created from the bone taken from Adam, what follows in the account? The commandment for them to become one flesh. Think about that. Adam now has a ‘help meet’, or in other words, he has finally met his equal. And the Lord now says, ‘Therefore’- in other words, because I have woman and brought her to you- ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife.’ Think of that interesting choice of verbs for a moment. Normally ‘to cleave’ means to cut asunder, to split into two parts. But in the Hebrew language, that word also carries the opposite meaning. It means to put back together two things that have been separated, to join them so tightly one to the other it is as if there was no original separation.
And here is the key to understanding how God views this sacred relationship between a man and a woman.
Adam had something cut away from him, cloven from his side. He was missing something. He was not whole any longer. So what is the solution? How does man become whole again? By cleaving to his wife.
Yes. By cleaving to the ONLY creation that is truly EQUAL to him. And when we cleave together- or better, cleave back together- we become whole once again. We become not two, but one- one in flesh, one in mind, one in spirit. Then, and only then, can man be fully complete.”
*So there you have it: 5 Scientifically proven ways to strengthen your marriage!*
Next week I am teaching a class on ways to strengthen your relationship with your spouse. I have been doing a lot of research, and have found these few dynamite ways that I listed above.
I have put them all to the test in the last month.
And I am not gonna lie: My HUSBAND ADORES ME!
But more importantly; I can honestly say I love my husband more now than I did before!
Which is kind of awesome considering what a rough month it has been– I wont bore you with the details, but simply put it has been more than I can handle.
And yet, I find that I not only Love my husband; I like him too! Yippee!!!