Select Page

This recent study demonstrates what may be intuitive for some but what’s even more helpful is the Inc.com author’s segue into “what to do about it” if you don’t have this attribute in your current relationship.

Study after study proves people who have good relationships–especially with their spouse or significant other–are most likely to achieve happiness.

But what if there was a single attribute that could predict whether relationships would be good enough–and whether the people in them would ultimately be happy or frustrated?

Now, a massive research project (described by the university that sponsored it as the “most comprehensive study” of marriage happiness to date) says there is in fact one such single characteristic.

It’s bigger than any of the other things we often think of in relationships–bigger than compatibility, growth, sexual attraction, intelligence, wisdom, or values. The single attribute? Kindness.

Here’s the study–plus what to do if you’re already in a relationship, but it doesn’t seem to have the level of kindness you realize you might be missing.

5 little questions

Writing in the Journal of Research in Personality , Bill Chopik, associate professor of psychology and director of the Close Relationships Lab at Michigan State University, explained how he combed through data on 2,500 long-term married couples (20+ years) to figure this out.

His data source involved self-reported responses that the couples had given to the following five questions, which were in turn used to evaluate their degree of aptitude in five dimensions:

  1. Extraversion. (“I am outgoing and sociable.”)
  2. Agreeableness. (“I am considerate and kind to almost everyone.”)
  3. Conscientiousness. (“I do a thorough job.”)
  4. Emotional stability. (“I worry a lot.”)
  5. Openness to experience. (“I am original and come up with new ideas.”)

Across the board, Chopik reported, couples who reported higher levels of agreeableness (No. 2) and lower levels of emotional instability (No. 4) also reported being happier with their relationships.

Surprisingly to Chopik and his team, other questions about whether couples had common interests or personalities didn’t have very much effect on happiness at all. (So much for dating apps that promise to find “compatible” matches!)

“People invest a lot in finding someone who’s compatible, but our research says that may not be the ‘end-all, be-all,’” Chopik explained. “Instead, people may want to ask, ‘Are they a nice person?’ ‘Do they have a lot of anxiety?’ Those things matter way more.”

Bids for attention

Good to know, right? And maybe if you’re dating or on the lookout for a partner, you might file away the advice: Agreeableness and stability matter, along with whatever other attributes you find attractive.

But what if you’re already in a marriage or other serious relationship? And what if, when you assess things honestly, you realize that you and your partner aren’t living up to the kindness and agreeableness standard?

This goes beyond the scope of Chopik’s work, but thankfully there are many other sources to take guidance and inspiration from. I’d point immediately to the work of psychologists Julie and John Gottman, for example, a husband-and-wife team who have spent years studying the same question.

The Gottmans argue that personal relationships are made up of an infinite number of small interactions, and that between couples, most interactions can be seen as “bids for attention” that are intended to inspire “micro-behaviors.”

  • Couples “bid for attention” all the time: when they start a conversation, when they lean in for intimacy, and when they propose ideas or ask for opinions.
  • And every such bid for attention is thus an invitation to “turn in,” meaning to respond with warmth and interest, which in practice means active listening and empathy.

When you inventory your interactions like this, it becomes clear that a lot of us have work to do in our relationships. One Gottman-trained psychologist estimates that happy couples “turn in” 86 percent of the time, while miserably married couples do it about one-third of the time.

I know this sounds simple. It is–although it’s not always easy to do in practice. But it’s a good three-point plan to try to keep top of mind.

  • Step 1: Listen for bids for attention, and try to turn in. Respond to your partner with interest.
  • Step 2: If you can’t turn in–nobody can all the time; otherwise we’d have no time for anything else–make clear that you want to. (“I’m interested to hear, honey, but can we talk about this later?”)
  • Step 3: When you screw up–and you will–and you realize it, apologize for doing so.

At the end, what do you call someone who pays attention like this, lets you know they care about you, and apologizes when they mess up?

I think we call that person “agreeable” or “kind.”

And just maybe, if Chopik and his team are right, it sounds like we also call them a person in a happy relationship.

See the original post, Want a Happy Relationship? The World’s ‘Most Comprehensive Study’ Says It Comes Down to Just 1 Thing (Plus: How to Get It if You Don’t Have It) by Bill Murphy Jr, on Inc.com .

The authors at Intimate Tickles found this article to be quite interesting, and we though you might like it as well. This articles was originally posted at loveandlifetoolbox.com by Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT
Spread the love

Read This Awesome Article In It's Entirety At It's Original Location

Check Out These Related Posts

10 Signs You Don’t Fight Fair in Your Relationship

10 Signs You Don’t Fight Fair in Your Relationship

Conflict is a part of life and relationships.  Though having less conflict is a good thing, having no conflict ever is not a realistic goal. The question is whether you and your partner are behaving in ways that will encourage you to successfully navigate through to...

read more
Two Ways to Boost the Emotional Safety in Your Relationship

Two Ways to Boost the Emotional Safety in Your Relationship

Emotional safety is one of the most important elements of any happy and healthy relationship.  Yet there are so many ways it can be compromised.  Sometimes it happens inadvertently and other times it’s a more direct assault on the foundation of the relationship. When...

read more
The Most Important Aspect of Affair Recovery

The Most Important Aspect of Affair Recovery

The emotional backlash of an affair on the partner who was cheated on can be earth shattering.  Whether there was suspicion of this happening leading up to the discovery or not, it all leads to a spectrum of emotions including shock, anger, grief and loss.  It can...

read more
The Sex Is Off the Charts But How Do I Make Him Want Me More Than Just Sex?

The Sex Is Off the Charts But How Do I Make Him Want Me More Than Just Sex?

  Women have asked me how do I make him want me more.  This especially happens after they have sex with a man. The thing is, it’s not really what you do to make a man want you more, it’s more in what you don’t do.  Women that try to push the relationship to the next...

read more
Bad Relationships on Repeat?  Break Your Unhealthy Patterns

Bad Relationships on Repeat? Break Your Unhealthy Patterns

Criticism.  Sarcasm.  Disrespect.  Repeat. These are just some of the relationship behaviors that some when reoccurring can leave you wondering, “How did I get here again?”  The relationship may have even started great, you thought he/she was incredible, a nice...

read more
Own Your Future!

We have been training representatives in the finance industry for 10 years.

We are expanding due to the greatly increased need for what we do. 

To be clear we are  independent contractors. This means we work on our own time. We are not looking for hourly employees, but people who are open to working for themselves - either part time, or advancing to full time.

Our main focus is helping families plan for the future like retiring sooner, getting out of debt, protecting their family via income protection, investments, and more.

We don’t require any financial degrees or experience although both are welcome. We offer PAID training and PAID licensing for the right person.

Looking for those with good people skills and a heart for helping others! Schedule extremely flexible. Everything can be done remotely.

Presentations/Interviews are conducted via Zoom (zoom.us), so computer and internet connection is required.

Must be 18+ years old, have a clean background, & be willing to get licensed with the state as well. Does this sound like something you would be open to hearing more about?