A recent survey asked 1,000 Americans what makes marriage happy. All sorts of ideas and concepts were mentioned, but according to marriage research, the predictable statements those surveyed came up with such as equal division of household chores, double incomes, limiting how many children you had or being united on how you parented were not as important. Marriage research did, however, uncover two very important ingredients that lead to marriage happiness and longevity.
According to marriage researchers, the two most important ingredients for marriage success and prevention of divorce is good old fashioned thoughtfulness (kindness) and generosity. The most important behaviors were rated according to importance.
- Small acts of kindness toward each other.
- Expressing affection.
- Expressing respect.
- Forgiveness of one another.
- Generosity of expressing each of these and working together as a team rather than wanting it to be even or fair.
Developing a plan of generosity and kindness in your marriage:
No matter how far your marriage has gotten off track (providing there is no abuse), you can restore your marriage. Below is my 5- part plan. Begin slowly and don’t gauge your success on your partner. Gauge it on how you feel being more generous and kind.
- Provide one small act of kindness per day. This can be expressed with words, hugs, or maybe even keeping your mouth shut if you have nothing kind to say.
- Give at least one hug a day, and if the children are around, hug them too.
- Show respect once a day. It can be something as simple as asking your partner how they feel about something, or giving your partner space after a long, tiring day.
- Forgive your partner at least once a day. If they forgot to pick up something on your grocery list, it really is okay.
- After one or two weeks, begin being more generous with your acts of kindness.
I have never seen a couple in therapy who are kind to one another. Couples who are kind to each other don’t have marital issues. Kindness comes from an understanding that you are on the same team, and it isn’t about being fair or right…it’s about loving and wanting to share a life together. Divorce does not have to happen and it is very rarely the answer to finding peace.