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Five actions that will save your marriage by DR MICHAEL MOSLEY


Most couples who get married hope to live happily ever after, yet the brutal reality is that more than 40 per cent of modern marriages end in divorce.
Fortunately, there are scientifically proven ways to protect your relationship.

On a more positive note, Dr also has recommendations for couples to work on for a happy marriage. They include:

1 Nurturing your mutual fondness and admiration. This means doing things such as genuinely celebrating the other person’s successes and commiserating with their failures. When your partner tells you about their day, look up; engage. Gottman found that couples who put a positive spin on their marriage were far more likely to stick together.

2 Turn towards each other. We regularly make what Gottman calls ‘bids’ for our partner’s attention. This might mean reading something you find amusing out loud from the newspaper or pointing to something interesting out of the window. How your partner responds is important. Turning towards you and saying something like ‘That’s interesting’ is good. Ignoring them or saying ‘Stop droning on’ is clearly bad.

In his studies, Gottman found it was the couples who turned towards each other at least 90 per cent of the time who were still married six years later. Those who did so less than a third of the time were soon in trouble.

3 Build love maps. This sounds very American but what it really means is, take an interest in your partner’s world. Remember and celebrate important events in each other’s lives. Remember what their friends are called. Know each other’s goals, worries and hopes.

4 Be kind to each other. Kindness is the other side of contempt. It is getting up and helping with the cooking, when asked, even if you are feeling shattered. It is resisting the urge, when you having a row, to say something destructive.

5 Solve your solvable problems. Gottman says you shouldn’t let problems fester, but get them out there when both of you are in a positive frame of mind. This almost always involves compromise and being tolerant of each other’s faults.

Getting married is not the be-all-and-end-all. Plenty of people choose to stay single and, despite claims to the contrary, there is no great evidence that being married confers unique benefits. That said, I do thoroughly recommend it.

One of the more surprising ways of predicting whether a couple will stay married is by studying the way they smile – because it turns out it can be a real giveaway about your true feelings. There are basically two types of smile, a genuine one and a fake one. The genuine one, called the Duchenne smile, is named after a French doctor who 200 years ago studied facial expressions.

A Duchenne smile involves the contraction of two sets of muscles: the zygomaticus major, which raises the corners of your mouth, and the orbicularis occuli, the ring of muscle around your eye sockets. A genuine smile activates both, so that the corners of your mouth turn up and your eyes crinkle.

A fake ‘Say Cheese’ smile, on the other hand, normally just involves the zygomaticus major, which, unlike the orbicularis occuli, is under voluntary control.

Based on studying smiles, psychologists have created something called FACS, the Facial Coding System, which they use to measure the intensity and genuineness of a smile. So what does this have to do with marriage? Well, in a study done in 2001, psychologists from the University of California asked a group of women, then in their 50s, to fill in questionnaires about their relationships and how happy they were with life.

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