When I get married I want to be a master. Of what exactly? Well, of kindness and generosity. These are the traits that are considered to be essential for a successful and long-lasting relationship. Not love or trust or even hot sex (go figure!) but kindness and generosity.
So, how did I come up with this seemingly simple solution to marital satisfaction? I didn’t. Researchers have been studying couples for years due to the increasing divorce rate. In 1986, two in particular (Robert Levenson and John Gottman) set up “The Love Lab” at the University of Washington. They invited newlyweds to discuss their relationship and measured the rate of change in their blood flow, heart rate, and their production of sweat as they shared relationship conflicts and positive experiences. The couples were then sent home and the researchers followed up with them in 6 years. What they found was that couples who were argumentative and defensive in “The Love Lab” didn’t last. Those who were calm and connected were still married. No shock there.
New information was found in a later study by the same team. They brought another set of newlyweds together and were told to ask their significant others for attention in a subtle way. Let’s say you like to read gossip sites (guilty) and you tell your guy to look at a funny video that you are watching. That’s your call for attention, or “bid” as the researchers called it. The study found that those who gave attention to their partners had long-lasting marriages. Responding positively to the “bid” showed support and engagement, which is essential to building a connection. Many of the couples who ignored the “bid,” or responded with aggression or disinterest, eventually divorced.
So what does this all really mean? That in order for a marriage to be successful you must generously support your love and be kind when communicating. You must give attention and not just receive. Your spirit and nature when you interact should be loving, calm, and open. Because there is no place for anger, contempt, resentment, or selfishness in long-lasting love.