Recently I had a major breakthrough at work. A few other good things happened to me the same day, and I couldn’t wait to sit down with my husband to fill him in. But when I saw my husband at the end of the day, he was preoccupied with something and responded to me with one-word answers, and I could tell he wasn’t really listening, which made me guarded.
Suddenly I felt like I didn’t want to tell him my news after all. If I told him my news and he wasn’t excited with me, it would extinguish my joy, and I didn’t want a downer after such a good day. So instead of getting frustrated with him, I told him about the study I had recently read that shows the one predictor of whether a couple is satisfied with their marriage. Here’s the surprising key to a happy marriage.
A recent study done by psychologists at the University of Toronto shows that relationship satisfaction directly correlates to our sensitivity to our partner’s positive emotions. This confirms past research that shows it’s important to be able to read your partner’s emotions and realize they are different from your own. Partners who assume their spouses have the same emotions as they do have lower levels of marital happiness. By sharing this study with my husband, I was telling him that I needed him to celebrate with me. So he stopped what he was doing, and we sat down together, as I finally shared my good news. I noticed three positive side effects when my husband celebrated my good news with me.
Relationship satisfaction directly correlates to our sensitivity to our partner’s positive emotions.
- It built greater emotional intimacy because I realized I could trust him with things that were important to me and that he cared about whether or not I was happy.
- It made us feel a greater sense of unity because now the positive experiences were something we shared together, rather than just being something that happened to one of us.
- It multiplied my joy. Having him express joy because of my good fortune made me happy that he was happy, which multiplied my positive feelings.
How do you react to your husband when he’s had a great day?
Cassandra Soars has published various national magazine articles on a wide range of topics, including life in Mozambique, Africa, where she lived for five years. Her first book Love Like Fire: The Story of Heidi Baker is available on Amazon.