Something that my late father and I have in common is we dig research and data. Back when he was alive, a lot of our email exchanges consisted of sharing random "Did you know?" info back and forth; the kind of stuff that probably only Jeopardy contestants would even remotely care about. Well, since a lot of my life consists of dealing with romantic relationships, I really enjoy reading scientific research that specifically relates to couples. Stuff that might seem like automatic common sense to some yet there is more than mere opinions to back the resolves up.
Today, let's tackle what keeps some people happier in their relationships than others. If after reading this, you can relate, please share your thoughts in the comments. If you never considered some of these things before, why not apply them ASAP? Love, on its own, is a beautiful thing. Oh, but when you're in love and happy in your relationship most of the time—life really doesn't get much better than that.
1. They Don’t Do a Lot of Texting (to Each Other)
There is literally only one person who has my cell number. Everyone else has my landline. A part of the reason is because I don't like the "I should have immediate access to you" impression that cell phones tend to give other folks. Plus, I write for a living. Texting all day long is one of the last things that I want to do. Meanwhile, it kind of amazes me how many married people prefer to text over talking over the phone. I don't mean simple stuff like, "Can you pick up some juice on the way home?" or "I'll be home at 7" kind of texts. I mean they will discuss serious issues, sometimes even have drag out fights that way.
There is one couple I know, in particular, who does it all of the time. When I encourage them to not only not text but to wait until they are face-to-face before getting all deep, they just blow the recommendation off. Yet—surprise, surprise—they rarely get matters resolved (definitely not in a timely fashion) and it's all because words are choppy and tone is left out when they text. When it comes to truly communicating with each other, what they think is a convenient method, actually…isn't.
That's why it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that research says that something happy couples have in common is they aren't big on the whole texting thing. You can click here to read the particulars, yet the gist is that women are not big on apologies over text and men think that doing a lot of texting is a sign of a relationship being a lower quality one. Just something to ponder if you and yours do more texting than actual talking.
2. They’re BFFs
Any couple who's worked with me before knows that I am a huge fan and advocate of husbands and wives being each other's best friend (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?"). There are two main reasons why. For one thing, ask any couple who has been together for more than five years and they're probably going to vouch for the fact that being "in like" is what will get you through the tough times when you don't feel quite like you're "in love". Not only that but people who are friends with one another tend to have a greater sense of loyalty and a desire to want to work issues—whatever the issues they may be—out. Plus, I'm pretty word-particular and "best" means of highest quality, standing and degree. How do you pledge to share your entire life with someone and they not fit that bill?
I'm not alone in this line of thinking. There are studies which support that couples who call their partner their best friend are twice as satisfied in their marriage as couples who don't. So, while some of you might have read what I said, rolled your eyes and was like, "Whatever. So-and-so is always gonna be my best friend"—one, so someone actually has a higher standing in your life than your own spouse? And two, science provides solid evidence for you to consider rethinking your stance. For the ultimate sake of your relationship.
3. They Have Sex (at Least) Once a Week
Whenever I have a conversation with church folks about the purpose of sex and the first thing they say is procreation, I'm the first to be like, "Yeah…naw." If you are a Bible follower, you can go to Genesis 2 and peep that Adam and the Woman (her name in the Garden of Eden) were given sexual instructions before leaving the Garden…even though kids didn't come until later (in Genesis 3). My point? Sex is about cultivating oneness and celebrating the love you and your partner have for one another, first and foremost. And why would you want to do that as little as possible (what in the world?!). As far as what science has to say about it, the current conclusion is the happiest couples have sex no less than once a week. And listen, when you stop to think about the fact that there are 168 hours in a week and that it takes roughly 30 minutes for a man and woman to orgasm together, how hard is it to make the time to strengthen your physical and emotional bond for the sake of your relationship's ultimate health and well-being? Real talk.
4. They Are Emotionally Close with One Another
I've shared in articles for this platform before that something I'm not big on using, when I'm talking about long-term relationships, is the word "vulnerable". Again, because I'm word-particular, I know that it means "capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon" and "open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.".
To me, your significant other should be your very safe space, so if coming to them with your thoughts, feelings and fears has you believing that you're capable of being wounded by them or that you'll constantly be open to attack or criticism, you're in a really unhealthy situation. So, what do I think couples should be? Dependent. Dependent is awesome word because it means "relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc." and y'all really—if you can't rely on your partner for aid and support, who can you rely on? Geeze.
Unfortunately, in the science and research world, dependence is used in an extreme sense (like being too needy or clingy). To me, that seems more like codependence or obsession. Anyway, the term they prefer to use is emotional closeness. In an article that I read on the topic, a clinical psychologist defined it as being the act of giving and taking so that you and your partner both feel fulfilled. Whichever term you choose to go with, the bottom line is emotionally relying on your partner while they rely on you is another key to being in a happy relationship. Because of all of the people in the world who you should be able to trust your feelings with, hands down, it should be them.
5. They’ve Got Similar Financial Values
Lawd. This one right here really can't be emphasized enough. When I wrote the article, "Please Be Clear On These 7 Things Before Getting Engaged" earlier this year, one of the points in it was how important it is for long-term couples to discuss their thoughts on money. It's no secret that two of the biggest causes of divorce, to this day, continue to be related to sexual incompatibility and financial drama. That's why it came as absolutely no surprise to me when I read that 1) far too many couples pick their financial opposite and 2) that leads to nothing but trouble once they do start to mesh their lives together. In fact, in an article on Live Science's website entitled, "Tightwads and Spendthrifts Attract, Marry, Fight", it stated that, unfortunately, far too many couples take on the "opposites attract" mentality when it comes to finances, only to get together and stay in constant conflict because their financial values absolutely do not coincide.
None of us can survive without money and relationships are a partnership. If you and yours don't see eye to eye when it comes to spending, saving and financially planning, it's gonna be really hard to stay together, let alone be happy. There is plenty of scientific data to prove it.
6. They THINK More than They FEEL
I can't remember which Black male manosphere podcaster said it (I listen to quite a few of 'em) yet this pearl of wisdom is something that I strive to apply to my life on the regular these days.
He said, "The moment you start to substitute 'I think' for 'I feel', your world will be a whole lot better." He's right. As much as folks—and by folks, I specifically mean us ladies as it relates to this topic—like to rely on feelings so much of the time, the reality is that feelings can be pretty fickle. I mean, even the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9-10—NKJV) And what is the heart? One definitely is the center of our emotions. The Bible warns that the center of our emotions can deceive—mislead, delude, falsely persuade—us. That's why I'm not big on the whole "follow your heart" thing. We've got a brain and common sense for a reason. It's far best to follow that.
Science agrees. There's an anthropologist by the name of Helen Fisher who once said that, when it comes to romantic relationships, our brains are broken up into three systems. There's lust (our libido). There's romantic attraction (romantic love). Then there's attachment (having a deep union with someone else). Well, when couples are not as reliant on lust and instead choose to focus their time, effort and energy on cultivating their attachment to their partner, their level of empathy increases, they are better at controlling their emotions and they are better able to maintain positive thoughts about their partner too. In short, they are happier and more fulfilled.
7. They Celebrate Each Other. As Much As Possible.
Something that's basically Parenting 101 is, when we're trying to get our children to learn something new and they do, we make sure to make a pretty big deal about it. We celebrate them as a form of inspiration and encouragement, right? Unfortunately, this is something that far too many of us lose sight of when it comes to nurturing our adult-level relationships. It's like, rather than becoming our partner's biggest fan, we instead turn into their biggest critic—always judging, picking (to the point of nitpicking) and criticizing. No one wants to be around that kind of individual and so, after a while, even if our partner stays with us, walls develop. And yeah, that ain't good.
One more study that I came across stated that when two people who are in a relationship act like they are just as excited for their partner's triumphs and achievements as their own, they find themselves to be way more satisfied with each other in the long run. I really can't think of a better place to end this article. Praise your partner. Cheer them on. Honor their achievements. Encourage reciprocity in this area. When you know that the one you love most is the most thrilled for your progress, how can you not want to stay in their space? For real, for real.
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