How to Enjoy a Happier Relationship

Want to Enjoy a happier relationship? At CTI, we’re always looking for new research to help couples enjoy happier and more connected relationships. We spend hours every month reviewing research to bring you the best ideas. Here are 5 obscure and little-known ways to experience delight in each other that you probably never heard before.

When You Remember How You Chose Each Other… It’s Easier to Have a Happier Relationship

Dr. James J. Ponzetti, professor emeritus, University of British Columbia, collected “how we met” stories from  124 couples.

happier-relationshipThe purpose of the study was to compare each spouses’ recollection concerning how they met, became a couple, and decided to get married.

Dr. Ponzetti discovered that when couples share the story of how they became a couple and reflect on all the positive reasons for committing to each other, they feel more fondness and admiration for each other.

Most couples have no idea how spending time reminiscing, laughing and sharing funny stories about their early days of dating, courtship, and eventual marriage can support a happier relationship.

Dr. Ponzetti’s research confirms John Gottman’s work, which reached a similar conclusion. One of the best ways to have a happier relationship is to fondly remember your early history on a regular basis.

During the first night of our couples therapy intensive, we ask couples to tell us the story of how they met, were attracted to each other, and became a couple. The couple continues to answer questions about the wedding, honeymoon and early years together.

It can be very gratifying to witness how couples light up, laugh, smile and reminisce. It helps to set a positive and hopeful mood for the weekend.

So chill some wine, curl up on the sofa and turn down the lights. You can do this yourself tonight, at home…right now.

happier-relatinshipDoes your Spouse Have Good News? Celebrate With Enthusiasm!

I’m a huge fan of Eli Finkel’s work, and I’ve written about his important work in a previous post.

He’s a professor at Northwestern University and the director of Northwestern’s Relationships and Motivation Lab. His book The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work, discusses his important research on how to have a happier relationship.

In that book, there is a little-known secret to a happier relationship that is rarely talked about by couples therapists.

Couples therapists talk a great deal about stress-reducing conversations. While that’s important, Professor Finkel’s research has discovered a less known fact that couples are happier when they share their lives with enthusiasm.

Couples who respond to good news with celebratory enthusiasm tend to ask more questions. This extended shared enthusiasm promotes a deeper, more loving connection and a happier relationship.

Remember that Your Spouse Loves You and is On Your Side.

Paul DePompo, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and the founder of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Institute of Southern California. Dr. DePompo is a pragmatic evidence-based therapist who prefers to work deeply and briefly to promote meaningful cognitive change.

He reminds us that if you’re bickering with your spouse, It’s not enough to breath and calm yourself down. It’s also important to remember to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Remember that your marriage is an incredibly close relationship. You love your partner, and they love you. It’s important to keep in mind that although your nervous system tells you otherwise, your intimate connection can be sustained through conflict. Having a different opinion does not mean that your partner doesn’t love you and or isn’t on your side.

Find your common ground, and don’t let your stupid, reactive nervous system somehow convince you that your spouse is your enemy. Dr. DePompo, says this simple shift will make it easier to keep an open mind and discuss the issue more collaboratively.

Want a Happier Relationship? Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep.

This last issue is particularly corrosive because we’ve come to tolerate the experience of being sleep deprived. And I’ve written about one of the ways sleep problems impact relationships in a previous post.

But even though there is a huge amount of research on the issue, I find that many couples therapists are unaware of the strong correlation between poor sleep duration and serious relationship problems.

If you want to have a happier relationship, learn more about sleep hygiene.

Important research from the University of California, Berkeley examined the sleep habits of more than 100 couples. Those who reported poor sleep were not only much more likely to bicker with their partner, they became lonely and more socially isolated as well.

Human beings thrive on connection with others. Sleep deprivation not only undermines that sense of connection but because of our competitive 24/7 global economy, it has also become socially acceptable to be sleep-deprived.

“We humans are a social species. Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss, that vicious cycle may be a significant contributing factor to the public health crisis that is loneliness.” study senior author Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Loneliness Shortens Life

National surveys suggest that nearly half of Americans report feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Abundant research tells us that loneliness increases your risk of early death by a whopping 45%. This is twice the mortality risk associated with being obese.

Researchers have noticed that over the past 30 years there has been a significant increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep hygiene.” Eti Ben Simon, Researcher at the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley.

One of the secrets to a happier relationship is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. The less you sleep, the less you feel like interacting with your spouse. Sleep deprivation is very hard on intimate relationships. If you’re sleep-deprived, take action, or get help at a sleep clinic as soon as possible.

Want a Happier Relationship?… Book a “State of the Union” Assessment

Ready for a change in your relationship?

It starts with a no-obligation 15 minute phone call with our client services team.

Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist and the blog editor. He currently works with couples online and in person. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and Developmental Models in his approaches. Daniel specializes in working with neurodiverse couples, couples that are recovering from an affair, and couples struggling with conflict avoidant and passive aggressive behavior patterns.

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