Want a Happier Marriage? Be Generous.

Happier couples report more generosity in their marriages. A recent study, part of the National Marriage Project, surveyed more than 1,400 couples between the ages of 18 and 46. All the couples had children. Researchers found couples who said they had a high amount of marital generosity were five times more likely to have “very happy” marriages. The acts of generosity conveyed importance to their partner.

What does it mean to be generous? It can mean any small act of kindness. Happy couples I interviewed for my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss, reported many small, generous acts, such as getting a cup of tea each morning or a back rub each night. It boils down to giving something to your spouse that he or she likes—showing that you know their likes/desires and that you value them.

And the most important way to be generous? Sexually. Researchers found that spouses who reported above-average sexual satisfaction were 10 to 13 times more likely to be “very happy” in their marriage, compared with those who were less satisfied sexually. This is consistent with other research: Read Want a better marriage? Have more Sex.  Since sexual satisfaction was by far the most important indicator of a “happy marriage” for this study, it really should have been the headline, but if you consider it as part of an overall generous marriage, you can even take your marriage to a higher level.

Remember that marriage researcher John Gottman, PhD, has long advocated at least five positive interactions for every one negative interaction in a marriage as a predictor of long-term success. (Read Avoid Divorce with 5:1 Ratio.) Acts of generosity certainly help increase the number of positive interactions and encourage you and your spouse to think positively toward one another.

I think one of the biggest obstacles toward completing more generous acts is time. So, think ahead when you are shopping and grab a few small things your partner would enjoy. Stock up on their favorite drinks or treats. And try to be sensitive to their day. For example, is there an errand you could help with or something needed at home you could pick up on your way from work? And schedule time for intimacy when you won’t be exhausted.

Other factors that were important to having a very happy marriage according to the study included:

  • Level of commitment
  • Generosity and a positive attitude toward raising children
  • Social support from friends and family
  • Spirituality within a marriage

Read the story from MSNBC: Generous couples have happier marriages.

What is one generous act that you or your spouse try to do on a regular basis? (That is, outside the bedroom!)

NOTE:
My new book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is now available–just in time for Christmas. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Nook or e-book. If you’ve already bought the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex-life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Photo by Ambro courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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7 responses to “Want a Happier Marriage? Be Generous.

  1. My wife and I frequently give each other rides to work and school, to help the other avoid having to find parking and the walk from the parking lots. Plus we get to “sneak” in a little extra time together during the trips.

  2. Great idea. Many couples find it difficult to get even 10 minutes together each day, and you’ve squeezed some extra time in while being generous.

  3. For us generosity is found in many small things. I make her tea most mornings, despite being strictly a coffee drinker myself. I also try to purposefully give her a compliment every day on her physical appearance – trying to consciously combat the negative body image messages that are everywhere today.

    I just downloaded the NMP study and gave it a quick scan. I can’t wait to dig into it further – always interesting findings.
    Scott

  4. Scott, you are always a good example for acting selflessly and thoughtfully. I wish all husbands understood the power of their compliments and the need to overcome poor body images and self-doubt. And I’m sure the tea is just as appreciated. All the best to you,
    Lori

  5. Pingback: Smart Relationships» Blog Archive » If You Can’t Say Anthing Nice…

  6. Pingback: 50 Best Marriage Quotes of 2011 from Marriage Blogs | To Love, Honor and Vacuum

  7. Pingback: How to keep a daily connection in your marriage | Marriage Gems

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