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Couples’ Happiness

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The foundation of couples’ happiness is each person feeling good about him or herself and their own lives. Self-esteem, self-respect and an ample sense of personal fulfillment pave the way for respect and kindness toward your partner. While you can’t “make” your mate happy, consistently compassionate and supportive actions contribute significantly to the other’s sense of safety and security, contentment and well-being.

The renowned marriage therapists and researchers John and Julie Gottman have reported that happy couples average about five positive statements, gestures or behaviors for every negative one. By contrast, highly dysfunctional couples tend to criticize or blame one another about five times as much as they act kindly or pleasantly toward each other.

older_happy-coupleOften, one person’s positive persistence can eventually have a favorable impact on his partner. For example, every day for a couple of weeks a woman client of mine asked her husband how she could support him. Initially, the guy rebuffed his wife’s caring offers. However, this woman was not dissuaded. Her husband fairly soon accepted her good-will outreach and made some simple requests like, “You can wash the dinner dishes from last night” and “Please set up the hammock in the yard.” This melted the bristling tension between them and re-established intimacy.

An integral form of respect involves accepting, sometimes even appreciating, your partner’s differences. A prime example is appreciating your spouse’s style of giving and receiving love–her love languages. I have witnessed a number of couples becoming markedly happier together once they identified and accommodated each other’s love languages.

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A clear case of such quid pro quo was exemplified by a couple I worked with who had been happily married for 10 years, but steadily discontent over the course of the last three years. In discussing love languages, the wife had not realized how much her husband felt deprived of physical touch and sexual pleasure. Similarly, the husband didn’t comprehend how much his acts of service, both at home and in community volunteering, took him away from his wife. In a concerted effort to oblige the other, each person came to actually enjoy the partner’s love style. Within a month, their relationship was saliently stronger, warmer and richer!

University of Denver marriage researchers Howard Markman and Scott Stanley indicated that the best predictor of marital longevity is a couple’s ability to constructively resolve conflicts. My wife and I acknowledge each other for having made considerable strides in this area over the course of our 46-year marriage. We continually learn and share skills and attitudes for peaceful resolution. A simple adage we use is “identify and solve one problem at a time, in a way that builds and nourishes our relationship.”

I invite you to discuss with your love partner:

What contributes to happiness or satisfaction in our relationship?

I’ll bet that you find some commonalities, and also express some different areas of appreciation. Enjoy the conversation!

Be sure to set up your free call with one of us so we can discuss ways to create more happiness: 303-796-7004.

Your relationship coaches,

Jim Sharon

Ruth Sharon

www.energyforlife.us

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Jim and Ruth Sharon

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