Entries in happiness (9)


Valentines Approaching Middle Age*

*Wikipedia defines “middle age” as 41 – 60, so it must be true. 

Everyone in a long-term romantic relationship has a story. Each of our stories is unique. Our story begins when we were 21 (Charlotte) and 25 (Patrick). We were both coming off other long-term, serious (or so we thought) relationships, and we really didn’t know what we wanted out of a relationship or what we could offer a partner. Now, 17 years and 2 kids later, we both feel pretty lucky that things have worked out as well as they have. Back then, we had no idea what challenges we would face or how we would help each other maneuver through them. We were young and optimistic, but there was so much we didn’t know.

Due to practice and a bit of research (it doesn’t hurt that we are both researchers who study romantic relationships!), we know a little more about relationships now. However, we are still never sure what to do each Valentine’s Day (see past reflections on this matter here and here). It seems like a holiday for “new lovers,” and we’ve known each other too long to feel “new” to each other. What are those of us approaching middle age and in long-term relationships supposed to do on this holiday?

Being the nerds that we are, we decided to review some relevant research to help answer this question, and we offer a few tips in case you find yourself in a similar predicament.

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Getting Married? Love Science? Here are Our Ten Research-Based Wedding Vows

I study romantic relationships. I’m also engaged. So, of course, I’ve given a tremendous amount of thought as to what it really means for my partner and I to marry one another. Researchers have found that weddings are deeply significant life events, but we don’t really know why they’re so meaningful. Marriage may simply be about celebrating a milestone: recognizing the relationship that a couple has built together and the love that they share for each other. But weddings are also very future-oriented, as the couple publicly promises to maintain their relationship for life. I suspect that it’s really these vows – the solemn promises that the newlyweds make to each other in front of their closest friends and family – that are at the crux of why weddings have such an emotional impact.

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Do the Daily Sacrifices We Make in Relationships Make Us Happier? Relationship Matters Podcast #22

In the 22nd installment of Sage’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Casey Totenhagen (University of Arizona) dicusses recent research on how the daily sacrifices we make in relationships (e.g., doing the dishes, picking up a partner from work) influence how happy and committed we are in our relationships. 

Totenhagen explained, “In a relationship the partners are interdependent, and what I’m feeling and getting out of the relationship really depends on how my partner is treating me. These sacrifices are opportunities that we have to show our partners that we care about them, that we’re invested in the relationship, and that we want and expect the relationship to continue.”

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Four Steps to a Happy Relationship, According to Ethiopian Men

Michelle Kaufman is a researcher who focuses on sexual behavior in the developing world. She globe trots regularly, engaging in ethnographic work all along the way in order to inform both the quantitative and qualitative research she conducts. Recently, Michelle visited Ethiopia and attempted to find out the secrets to a good relationship.

On a recent trip to Ethiopia, I asked the same question of many men, some single and dating, some young and newly married, and some older men in committed relationships for many years: What makes a relationship successful?

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Be There For Me When Things Are Going Well

We typically think of significant others as an important source of support when things go wrong in our lives; someone to catch us if we fall. If you were to lose your job, you’d turn to your partner for support to help you through that rough time. However, your partner’s support for positive life events is equally as important. When good things happen, like a new great job falls into your lap, is your partner supportive? “That’s a great opportunity! I’m so excited for you!” Or are they uninterested or negative about your good news? “Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. Are you sure you’re up for it?” 

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Four-Legged Support: The Benefits of Owning a Pet

Decades of research show that close relationships play a critical role in our health and wellbeing. People need to feel connected to others, and so they fare much better when they have supportive, nurturing relationships with people such as family members, friends, and romantic partners. But what about our relationships with our four-legged friends? Are pets just cute and fun to play with, or can they actually help to meet some of our important psychological needs?

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Dilbert: Making a Case for the Selection Perspective


Happiness vs. Time in Relationships


Do Happy Teens Divorce More?

A recent article indicates teenagers who were most happy were also more likely to divorce as adults. But remember: correlation doesn't equal causation! It's probably the case that teenage happiness is associated with the self-confidence, support, and enpowerment to leave bad relationships as an adult; not that happiness itself causes divorce.

Click here to read more about these findings on the HuffingtonPost.com.

Richards, M., & Huppert, F. A. (2011). Do positive children become positive adults? Evidence from a longitudinal birth cohort study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 75-87.