SHELLY GABLE, an assistant professor of
psychology at UCLA who studies what makes marriages great, has
found something helpful for those of us who are married.
When a husband or wife tells some good
news to their spouse, the spouse's reaction can raise the husband's
or wife's mood, or lower it.
If your spouse tells you some good news,
how do you respond? Gable divided the possible kinds of
response into four categories.
For example, if your spouse told you s/he
just got a promotion at work, you might respond in one of these
1. Enthusiastically: "That's
great, Honey! You're on your way!"
2. Negatively or critically: "Are
they going to make you work longer hours?"
3. Positive, but subdued: "That's
4. Uninterested: "Did you see
they finally opened the new Macy's on 8th Street?"
Studies show that if you would respond
enthusiastically (technically known as "capitalizing"),
as opposed to any of the other ways, it would make a big difference
in how satisfied your spouse is in your marriage, how committed
s/he is, and how in love s/he is with you.
And, of course, if your spouse is more
satisfied with your marriage, is more committed to you, and more
in love with you, you will be happier!
This is something relatively simply you
can do that may bring a lot of good results. The reason this
particular bit of research struck me so forcibly is that my wife
(Klassy Evans) responds this way (enthusiastically) every time
something good happens to me or for me. And, what do you know?
I feel totally committed to her, completely satisfied with my
marriage, and deeply in love with her.
Gable's studies dovetail with research
by John Gottman, who studies couples in his "love lab"
and has found that married couples make many small "bids
for connection" with each other and he can predict with
a lot of accuracy which marriages will last and which won't simply
by looking at how each spouse responds to the bids.
A spouse can turn away, turn toward, or
turn against a bid for connection. Of course, spouses that turn
toward each others' bids (respond positively and with attention)
will have the most successful marriages.
So what are you going to do? Would you
like to have a more satisfied, committed, loving spouse? Try
capitalizing and see what happens. Try turning toward your spouse's
bids for connection as often as possible.
Learn more about Gottman's work on "bids"
in his book, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening
Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships.