10 Science-Proven Facts About Happy Marriages

man putting ring on wife's finger

Whether the stats show that divorces are on the rise or decline, the fact is that marriage isn't something anyone seems to have all figured out! But that hasn't stopped researchers from investigating what keeps the happiest unions ticking!


Here, 10 scientific facts about the happiest marriages.

1. Regulating your emotions, as a wife, boosts your chances of bliss. Taking a look at nearly 25 years of data, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that the happiest marriages were the ones in which wives were able to calm quickly during conflict. In turn, they were able to employ constructive communication strategies -- like clearly expressing feelings and suggesting solutions/compromises.

2. The more sex, the less worry. Even if you or your partner have a tendency to be worrywarts, having an active sex life can boost your satisfaction. In fact, research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science noted that neurotic newlyweds who had a lot of sex were as satisfied with their marriages as less neurotic couples. Makes sense: Sex definitely serves as a chill pill!

3. Your vocabulary matters. In your single days, it may have gotten under your skin when friends would constantly refer to themselves as "we" or "us," but turns out, when you're married, using couple-focused words like "we," "our," and "us" when discussing a conflict is linked with more affection, less anger, and had lower psychological stress levels during the standoff, according to a study published in the journal Psychology and Aging. Meanwhile, use of words like "I," "me," and "you" during a disagreement was linked to marital dissatisfaction.

4. If your spending habits are compatible, you will be, too. If you're married to someone who is more concerned about contributing to that 401(K) while you're thinking in terms of a new pair of designer jeans or tropical vacation, you're not alone. Most of us tend to pair up with our spending opposite, according to researchers at the University of Michigan's Ross Business School. But financial opposites have greater conflicts over money and lower marital satisfaction than those whose spending tendencies are similar.

5. The more you give, the more you get. That is, when it comes to appreciation. In a study of 50 couples, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, those who felt more appreciated by their romantic partners reported actually being more appreciative of their partners. Go figure!

6. You need a healthy "ratio" to stay afloat. For every one negative feeling or interaction with your spouse, you should have at least five positive feelings or interactions, suggests relationship researcher John Gottman. Negative interactions could be as simple as not showing affection, whereas positive interactions may be as simple as listening to your partner tell you about their day.

7. The determining factor is friendship. Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but both sexes agree that the determining factor in whether wives or husbands feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple's friendship, according to Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

8. Prioritize between-the-sheets time for more joy. In research published in the journal Social Indicators Research, which included 15,386 people who were surveyed between 1993 and 2006, respondents who had sex at least two or three times a month were 33 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness than those who had no sex during the previous 12 months. And it seems the more you do it, the bigger the benefit: Couples who got it on once a week were 44 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness, and those who were making love two to three times a week were 55 percent more likely!

9. The couple that broadens their horizons together, stays together. You don't have to book a world tour, but getting out and enjoying more novel, arousing experiences together will be a boon for your relationship satisfaction, notes a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

10. Remember the funny times. If you want to boost your marital joy in a pinch, reminisce about something that had you and your spouse in stitches, notes a study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. The research found that recalling an event involving "shared laughter" actually has a better relationship satisfaction-boosting effect than remembering any other sort of positive event.

Which of these would you say has the strongest effect on the success of your marriage?


Image via Ivan Galashchuk/shutterstock

Read More >