What Makes A Happy Marriage?

Let’s face it, living as an expat can put some severe stressors on relationships. I’ve seen far too many relationship problems in my family practice here, but here’s a positive article from the New York Times that I wanted to share with you. The reporter talks about research showing how many good marriages use a “partnership” model, where each person feels raised up or expanded by their partner. It’s the idea that a good marriage is 1 + 1 = 3. Here’s a nice section of the article:

For centuries, marriage was viewed as an economic and social institution, and the emotional and intellectual needs of the spouses were secondary to the survival of the marriage itself. But in modern relationships, people are looking for a partnership, and they want partners who make their lives more interesting.

Caryl Rusbult, a researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam who died last January, called it the “Michelangelo effect,” referring to the manner in which close partners “sculpt” each other in ways that help each of them attain valued goals.

Dr. Aron and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, have studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, a process called “self-expansion.” Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.

The article has another interesting graph using overlapping circles as a sign of healthy relationships. Where does your relationship fit?

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