Psychology currently suggests that the boost in happiness that occurs as a result of marriage lasts approximately two years. After that, levels of contentment return to their former values. And perhaps as a result of couples’ unwillingness to put in the work required to sustain long-term relationships, the current divorce rate in the US is half the marriage rate. Infatuation and passion, lamentably, have even shorter shelf lives than the good feeling we get from marriage, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.
What’s the Big Idea?
Concrete steps can be taken to turn those wuzzing feelings, which fade, into a more compassionate love that is composed of “affection, connection and liking.” Lyubomirsky recommends strategies that include making time to be together and talk, truly listening to each other, and expressing admiration and affection. “A pat on the back, a squeeze of the hand, a hug, an arm around the shoulder—the science of touch suggests that it can save a so-so marriage,” Dr. Lyubomirsky writes. “Introducing more (nonsexual) touching and affection on a daily basis will go a long way in rekindling the warmth and tenderness.”