For married couples, finding moments to be together free of financial, family or other stresses is not an indulgence, according to new research from the University of Denver.
"The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time," says Howard Markman, a psychologist who co-directs the university's Center for Marital and Family Studies.
“The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant.”
Other studies, too, have found that having fun together -- especially while doing “new and exciting activities” -- is the secret to a happy marriage.
Having a joyful marriage is unfortunately the exception rather than the rule in the United States. This is tragic as your happiness and ability to be optimally productive in your life is severely limited when you are not in a happy relationship with your spouse.
Taking some free time to really engage yourselves in something fun (without the kids and without any worries) is something we all can do more of, but there are other ways to support your relationship as well.
Four Tips to a Happy Marriage
Research shows that happily married couples live longer and heal faster than those in unhappy relationships. With that in mind, here are some practical ways to increase the happiness in your relationship:
1. Fight fair. “The way you interact during marital arguments is as important a heart risk factor as whether you smoke or have high cholesterol,” says Timothy W. Smith, a psychology professor at the University of Utah. Verbal aggression, such as yelling at or insulting your partner, leads to decreased intimacy and “self-silencing” -- keeping quiet during a fight -- has been linked to depression, eating disorders and heart disease in women.
2. Keep positive feelings alive. Couples most likely to be married for the long-term are those who maintain their positive feelings for their spouse for at least the first two years. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can help you to clear any emotional blocks that may be sabotaging your relationship.
3. Read the book Fighting for Your Marriage. I generally give this book to all the couples I know who are planning to get married. It is a valuable source of information for positively handling disagreements between you and your spouse, which will increase the success of your relationship.
4. Support your partner’s goals and dreams. People feel happiest in relationships where they feel the other person helps them achieve their own personal goals.
ABC News July 26, 2008