Will Your Marriage Last?
Wondering if your marriage will last? According to new research, the closest thing to a crystal ball is your gut. A new study published inSciencefinds your true, gut-level feelings to be the best predictors of marital bliss.
Researchers from Florida State University surveyed 135 newlywed couples every six months for four years to determine how their feelings influence the future of their marriage. They found that the feelings couples were able to verbalize were virtually unrelated to any changes in the marriage over time. But their more automatic, unconscious gut feelings—whether positive or negative—were a better predictor of future happiness. “Even if people are not aware of them, gut-level feelings guide attention and behavior,” explains study author Jim McNulty, PhD, professor of psychology at Florida State University.
To dig up those gut-level feelings, researchers put the participants through a timed reaction test to measure their automatic responses. Those who responded more quickly to positive words alongside photos of their partner remained happier over the four years compared to people who took longer to respond.
As to how that guided behavior can equal more happiness: “It appears positive gut-level feelings help people attend to the positive aspects of their relationship and stay engaged,” Dr. McNulty explains.
MORE:10 Little Things Happy Couples Do
Harboring negative gut-level feelings doesn’t automatically make you doomed for divorce—just be sure not to bottle them up once you discover them. “Research suggests that direct communication is the most adaptive for a relationship,” says Dr. McNulty, “so I would imagine it would be constructive to address them directly.”
And the same logic applies even if you’re not a newlywed, he says. Tapping into those feelings long into your relationship can be just as beneficial; if you’ve got a negative feeling in your gut, uncovering it may help zero in on a solvable problem, while rediscovering those warm and fuzzy feelings could even strengthen what you already know to be a happy relationship. The key to figuring unearthing those hidden instincts is yet to be set in stone But McNulty suggests “to attend your most immediate feelings upon seeing your partner.” Just don’t blame us if you get caught staring.
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