A lot of insightful research on relationship effectiveness comes out of the Greater Good Science Center. This article from researcher Barbara Frederickson, PhD, was exceptionally interesting in that she essentially breaks down our loving feelings into a science. She explains that love is a renewable resource, and tells us five ways in which we can renew it.
Frederickson describes these loving feelings as a combination of the sharing of positive emotions, the synchrony between your and another person’s biochemistry and behaviors, and a dual motivation to invest in each other’s wellbeing. The positive energy we create can be sustained and can grow (with effort).
Several results occur when we inject positive emotions into our day, according to researchers. First, we open our awareness and better see the big picture. We see more possibilities when we experience positive emotions (as opposed to neutral or negative ones), and we can bounce back better from adversity. Even creativity and academic test results are improved when they are preceded by positive emotions.
Clearly these outcomes would benefit a marriage, particularly when we are looking for solutions or ways to do things better. The kicker is that we need to renew these loving feelings daily—multiple times each day. Frederickson shares five ways research says we can boost our “positivity resonance:”
- Look into your spouse’s eyes as often as possible. Your body craves more than text message connections; it craves “moments of oneness.” Eye contact helps you synch up.
- Look for opportunities to be silly together in a cooperative manner. For example, don’t be afraid to engage in silly contests and have fun figuring out how best to solve the challenge together.
- Bring up shared history in a positive way. Show that you know your spouse well and that they can trust you.
- Take time to appreciate the good things. Express gratitude not only for the actions of another but for the good qualities that you see in your partner. This extra step helps your spouse feel validated and cherished.
- Invest in positive emotions for the future. They can be built up, and when difficult times appear, you will have a resource from which to draw on.
Frederickson says, “Genuine positive emotions are available to you at any time.” Practicing these five tips may help you feel more connected and give your marriage greater resilience. You can find more insights from the Greater Good Science Center here.
Do you agree with these suggestions, or do you believe love isn’t something you can break down into actionable components?
Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.
Photo by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.