The Good Life

Better to Celebrate than Commiserate

Here’s an interesting finding that could help you and your spouse become a better couple. A new study from the University of California Santa Barbara finds that the way you respond to your partner’s good news may be more important than how you react to his or her disappointments. Couples who celebrated each other’s happy events like promotions or raises reported greater satisfaction in their relationship and were less likely to break up than those who offered support only during rough times.

The researchers videotaped 79 couples as they talked about negative and positive events in their lives. Not only did a negative response to a partner’s good news hurt the relationship. Passive support – like smiling vaguely saying “great” and returning to the newspaper also made spouses unhappy. The research team says this finding really surprised them.

So when your mate bursts through the door with good news, make an effort to notice these events and act on them in some way. Apparently it doesn’t mean you have to celebrate every event with a five-course dinner. The researchers say simple and sincere praise is enough, because it’s the thought that counts.

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