“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” – Albert Einstein
Growing old with the person you love is a dream for most people. It’s a relationship goal you may be hoping to achieve, but let’s state the obvious: it takes a hell of a lot of time and commitment.
I’m sure at this point you have heard a lot of (unsolicited) relationship advice from your friends and family. Perhaps you don’t even know what is trustworthy and what is not anymore!
One of the most authoritative sources we have as humans is science. Science can give us definitive answers where nothing else does. It’s a source we can use to find answers to some of life’s greatest questions. Including those regarding our long-term romantic relationships.
To help you make it to the big 5-0 anniversary, here are seven science-based tips you can use in your marriage (or committed relationship).
Idealize your partner
A research study published in Psychological Science found that couples who had idealized images of their partners were happier in their marriage than those who had more realistic expectations. This seems like the opposite of everything you have been told about having relationship expectations, right?
Science has shown that this “idealizing” is not necessarily about holding your partner up to a high standard that will ultimately lead them to disappoint you. It’s actually more about convincing yourself they are the perfect fit for you. If you persuade yourself they are the absolute best person for you, you will feel totally fulfilled with who they are. And that means a happy, long-lasting relationship.
This also may seem like a counterintuitive tip, but once again science has proven common sense wrong. An article in the New York Times explains that relationships are most fulfilling when each person is allowed to grow as an individual. Each partner needs to put their focus on themselves, rather than the relationship.
Each of you should feel comfortable being yourself with each other, even if you change throughout your relationship. If you focus on self-growth, your partner will be there to help and support you through this process, as you will for them. You are two individual and unique people who are fit for each other.
Truly commit to your marriage
This one might seem a bit obvious: Minimal effort won’t cut it in marriage. If you’re in it for the long haul, it will require real commitment. Research indicates how significant commitment is in a romantic relationship. Being committed means that the intention behind your behavior within a relationship is long-term oriented. Your actions serve the long-term interest of you both as a couple, not your short-term self-interest.
Commitment shows in many aspects, from being there through the hard times to celebrating the important milestones, like wedding anniversaries. Spend time with your partner, listen to them, ask them about their day and make sure they do the same for you. Don’t take the moments you are together for granted, and work towards making them count.
Every person has their own way of communicating, and every couple has created their own style of communicating with each other. But what is important is the effectiveness of communication in your relationship. You should each be able to express your own feelings and opinions while also being able to listen to your partners’. A study by Lavner, J.A. & Bradbury pointed towards communication being an even greater influence on marital bliss (and respectively, marital misery) than commitment, personality traits or stressful life events.
When problems arise, you and your partner should communicate in a way that will lead to a solution, not a bigger problem. Learning effective and productive communication will help you both stop viewing an argument as an individual battle to win, but rather as something you can work on together.
Okay, so obviously how much (or little) sex you and your partner have is entirely your own personal preference, but here are the scientific facts – the more sex, the better.
Scientists call this effect an “afterglow,” which pretty much refers to the happiness and bond you feel after having sex. This feeling can last up to two days. So if you would like to always feel this “afterglow,” then the solution is to have sex fairly often. So turn that phone off, and get busy!
Do not overdrink
How often you go boozing is up to you, but it is essential to know that the amount of alcohol you consume affects your partner and your marriage. Studies have been done on couples with different drinking habits and found when one partner drinks significantly more than the other, the relationship becomes strained over time.
You and your partner are more likely to stay together if you both have the same attitude toward alcohol. If you both love it, then you have a great thing to bond over. If your partner does not drink, but you do, you may need to cut back a little. It will help to make them feel more comfortable. It’s a lifestyle choice that you should be on the same page about, whether that is for or against it.
Do exciting things together
Spending time together is important, but even that can start to feel like a chore. Especially if you constantly go to the same restaurant or visit the same shopping mall. A study has proven that a great way to keep a relationship going is to try new things and seek thrills with your partner.
Trying new foods, going hiking, taking a class together and anything else new and exciting releases dopamine in your brain. This is the same chemical you feel at the beginning of a relationship. It keeps that spark alive and keeps you feeling like you did when you first met each other.
Making a marriage last is probably one of the hardest jobs a human can do. Life gets messy and can push people apart. But with a little bit of science to help, you can fight to keep yours going. ‘Til death do you part’.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.