Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Marriage.

Marcus Buckingham, in his book “The one thing you need to know” refers to the conclusion of a team of psychologists led by Dr.Sandra Murray of SUNY, Buffalo, on what is the defining characteristic of a happy marriage.

Conventional wisdom says that a happy marriage is founded on clear-eyed understanding and acceptance of each other. If this were true, then when a husband rates his wife high on ‘patient’, ‘warm’ and ‘sociable’ but lower on ‘open and disclosing’, and his wife rates herself in the same way, they should be a very happy couple. Put more simply, when their patterns of ratings match, their level of satisfaction with the marriage should be high. Right? “Wrong’ say the researchers..

In the study carried out Dr Murray, 105 couples were asked to rate each other on a list of qualities such as “kind and affectionate”, “tolerant and accepting”, “patient”, “warm”, etc and then asked to rate how rewarding and satisfying they found their relationship.

Surprise. A match between the husband’s ratings of his wife and the wife’s’ ratings of herself showed no correlation whatsoever to how happy they were in the relationship. (Not that there was a negative correlation either.) However one distinct pattern did emerge. In the happiest couples, the husband rated the wife more positively that she did on every single quality. For some reason, the husband in a highly rewarding relationship consistently credited his wife with qualities that she didn’t think she had. These perceptions may not be real, but they nevertheless served to cement the relationship.

The research also showed that when you find a flaw in your spouse, you shouldn’t try to compartmentalize it and set it off against a positive trait, as in, “Yes, she is a short-tempered person, but on the positive side, she is also caring and creative”. This doesn’t help. Sooner or later, these weaknesses that lurk in the wings for a while will leap out of the shadows like a villain and spoil the fun.

Instead, the researchers tell us, when you notice a flaw, recast it in your mind as an aspect of a strength. Thus, “She’s not impatient, she’s intense”. Or. “She’s not narrow-minded, she’s focused”.

“Satisfied partners give a positive spin on information and evidence to see their partner in the best possible light. In general, those who are satisfied see qualities in their partners that the partners do not see in themselves. Moreover, those who are satisfied see virtues in their partner that are not obvious to others, such as friends. Over time those who are idealized the most are together longer and are happier”, concludes Dr Murray.

In short, find the most generous explanation for each other’s behaviour and believe it. This is the One Thing you need to know about happy marriage.

So, now you have it in a nutshell. Practice it carefully. If your wife whacks you on the head with an umbrella, remember she is not trying to smash your skull, but is trying to give you a gentle head massage and improve blood circulation to your medulla oblongata. If she adds potassium cyanide in your coffee, she is not scheming to poison you; she is enriching her knowledge of chemical reactions. When she screams at you in that shrill voice which rattles the entire neighbourhood, she is not taking it out on you, but is exercising her vocal cords to become an opera singer. And, when you are stretched out on the sofa and she calls you a lazy slob, the last thing on her mind is criticism of your behaviour; she wants to shake you out of your complacency and inspire you to move on to greater heights on the Maslowian scale.

There, I have just unleashed to the blog world, the secret of a happy marriage.


Lalita said...

If I wasn't happily married already and if this was a leap year, I'd propose mariage to you, I would, I would. Such insights! Sigh.

Chitra said...

'Kay...bliblified this for my reference :)!

Kochukandhari said...

There's no happy marriage correlation when they wife worships the husband?

Raj said...

Lalita : If at all, the marriage proposal must be made to Marcus Buckingham.The insights are his.Unless he has already proposed to Dr Sandra Murray.

Maanya : Kay... bliblified ?And, what would that mean?

Beks : Yes, Yes, there most certainly is. I am all for it.

Usha said...

The Silver bullet - at last!
If only all husbands read this and practised it!

Raj said...

Usha, all husbands practise this, whether they read this or not.

Mysorean said...

I think after your last comment, effigies of your blog will be burnt alive for being an anti-feminist! :P