6 Essential Qualities of the Happiest Relationships

Linda: My husband Charlie and I studied the happiest couples we could find, interviewing more than 50 couples.

These couples were the voice of experience, having been married for an average of 30 years. They had all created exemplary relationships in the many different forms that great relationships can take. We expected that people who felt really happy and fulfilled wouldn’t have many differences and would have very infrequent conflict.

It turns out happy doesn’t necessarily mean tranquil.

Many of the “happy” couples were quite opinionated and could be volatile at times. Although it was true that overall there wasn’t much conflict, there were profound differences.

What distinguished these couples was that they were able to relate to those differences with appreciation and gratitude, rather than merely tolerating them or judging and being resistant.

They believed their differences added something rich to their relationship. Yet it was impossible not to notice that there were several themes that ran through nearly all of these relationships.

They include:

1. Enlightened self-interest

This has to do with the recognition that the happier my partner is, the happier I’m going to be. While this notion represents a belief that most people would agree with, few couples actually live in accordance with it. Many couples are primarily motivated by the impulse to pursue their own desires, even at the risk of causing distress or a sense of loss to their partner. Nearly all of the couples with whom we spoke claimed to experience a sense of pleasure and even delight in bringing greater fulfillment into the life of their partner and did not feel that they were sacrificing anything in the process of doing so. On the contrary, they claimed that the discovery of new ways to bring more happiness into their partner’s life was one of their greatest joys.

2. Intolerance to grudge-holding

The couples with whom we spoke, practically without exception, had an extreme intolerance to the accumulation of withheld resentments and consistently dealt with upsets and disappointments swiftly and effectively whenever they arose in the marriage.

3. A willingness to take personal responsibility for their part in any upsets or conflict

While it is natural and common for most people to become defensive and blaming when they find themselves in a situation which involves feelings of disappointment, frustration, anger or hurt, most of these couples were very willing to consider their part in the creation of the circumstances that led to the breakdown and could acknowledge their responsibility with a minimum of defensiveness. While there might often be an initial impulse to defend their position or actions, the amount of time that they would spend in a defensive mode was very brief, compared to most couples, before they became willing to recognize and acknowledge how they might have contributed to the situation.

4. Unconditional honesty

While most of us value honesty as a trait that is essential to the good character, it is all too easy to rationalize, justify, or excuse more subtle forms of dishonesty, such as white lies, justifications, or exaggerations. Most of these couples were not only scrupulously honest with each other but also were conscientious about expressing their thoughts and feelings in ways that were sensitive to their partner and rarely communicated their experiences in ways that could be characterized as being “brutally honest.” This combination of consistent honesty with high-level sensitivity led to a deep level of trust and respect in the marriage.

5. Integrating responsible self-care with care for the marriage

What may be perhaps the greatest challenge of any marriage is that of simultaneously addressing and fulfilling one’s own needs without neglecting those of the relationship. Nearly all of the couples that we spoke with were adept at both of these aspects of their lives and tended to see them as so inextricably linked that there was no apparent conflict or even difference between the two. They frequently tended to see their own well-being as inextricably linked to the health of their relationship and approached this responsibility with a sense of privilege, rather than a sense of duty or obligation.

6. Living in gratitude

For most of these people, the glass is always half-full. They are fundamentally optimistic, and that sense of optimism generally spills over to their marriage, as well as to other relationships in their lives. It is important to note that many of them hadn’t always had a natural temperament towards optimism, but had cultivated it in the course of their marriage. Many were influenced by an optimistic partner whose attitude supported them to cultivate a more positive worldview in their own lives. Consequently, there was a strong tendency to feel and express gratitude to each other and to others on an ongoing basis. This tendency to live in gratitude becomes a self-reinforcing experience that over time seems to permeate one’s overall quality of life experience.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Facebook: phicklephilly       Instagram: @phicklephilly       Twitter: @phicklephilly

Sun Stories: Jazmin – Guess Girl – Chapter 2

I’m folding towels when this lovely lady emerges from room seven.

“How’d you make out?”

“Great! I loved it!”

God. Her legs are exquisite. What an absolutely stunning young woman. Guess still uses photos of a young Sophia Loren in their ad campaigns. Lovely, young Jazmin clearly trumps her, and she’s a salesgirl.

What a beauty.

“You look great. When you come in next time just tell whoever is here your last name and they’ll know what you did, and where, and for how long and you can go again.”

“Thank you, Charles. It was amazing just like you said. It was like I got to lie on a warm, sunny beach for 12 minutes but with no sand blowing and no flies!”

We both laugh and I see that Jazmin is even more beautiful when she laughs. All women are beautiful, but when they laugh I love them more.

Maybe that’s why I’m funny.

“Hey, technically we’re closed so let me get the door for you.”

“Oh, can I ask you one more thing?”

“Yea, sure. What’s up?”

“You close every night at eight right?”

“Yea. Here’s a card with all of our hours on it.”

“I saw you through the window, Charles. I’m glad I came to see you.”

“Yea, you said that. My partner Achilles will be happy that I’m pulling clients from just standing in front of the windows on Walnut Street. Thank you, Jazmin!”

“I saw you chatting with a girl one night in front of the windows.”

“Oh… Okay. That was probably Colleen. Tall. Brown hair. Great girl. She likes to come in and tan and then leaves her gear in the gym, and then goes out for a jog. We call her the fudge lady because she hooks us up with delicious treats from the candy store she works in once a month!

“No. I was selling a dress to a lady and I saw you chatting and laughing with a really tan Asian girl with of all things… blonde hair. It was curious.”

“Oh… because her hair was blonde and she was Chinese?”

“No. because you were both there laughing and happy and she was eating a banana and then I watched you do things to her.

I am having a panic attack at this point. A searing pain explodes in my heart because I’m suddenly so scared. 

“Umm… what kind of stuff?”

“Things that I’ve never seen before. Things I don’t know. You kissing her in her private place between her legs.

There’s that moment in your mind when you feel like you’ve hit internet gold or when you’re going out for the last time because of your shitty behavior.

I’ve experienced this too many times in my life.

This was one of those critical moments.

“Can you imagine the Yelp review I write of what I saw you do to that to that girl?”

“That would destroy me, Jazmin. I’m so sorry you saw that. I was out of my head. I hadn’t seen her in over a month and we just…happened.”

“Interesting. I never saw anything like that. The look on her face was unforgettable.”

“I’m so embarrassed and humiliated. I’m sorry, please don’t tell anyone.”

“I don’t know what I want to do because I’ve never had this information before. You can understand my position.”

As hot as she was, I was sort of hating her power at this point, but still turned on in this moment…

“She looked very pleased to spend time with you.”

“Yea. I slipped.” (I knew I didn’t slip. I wanted Kita for months and anything from her would have been magic. Her body was a delicious snack that any man would cherish.)

“Is the salon closed?”

“Yes, Jazmin.”

“Then we need to have a conversation.”

I’m shitting bricks.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: