The Science Behind Happy Marriages
Happy marriages are what many people want. These relationships are written and spoken of by many artists, yet science has been much quieter in helping to define any happy relationship, or how to find one and how to maintain a happy marriage over time. Here we list 6 scientifically proven facts behind happy marriages and other relationships.
1. The brain response is different to love and lust
While chemistry and passion are important in any happy relationship, on there own they are not enough for a long-term happy marriage. Brain scans reveal that the brain responds differently to love and to lust. Lust activates the brain regions associated with rewards and pleasure, whilst love activates the regions that deal with the most basic rewards, like water when you are thirsty. This has lead scientists to believe that love is a long-term drive that does not stop. Lust can sometimes lead to love, but initially they are two very different responses.
2. Love is both a feeling and a conscious decision
People who are deeply in love in a happy marriage tend to mirror their loved one’s physiological rhythms. They tend to think fondly of each other, take on new shared experiences, and work to ensure the other’s happiness. They know what simple gifts the other enjoys. They compromise to celebrate their wedding and all anniversaries in a style they both enjoy. Love is also a daily choice, to ensure that as a couple you do not grow apart. This means that no matter how stressed or angry you are, you consciously choose love and respond in ways that support your relationship. Whilst feelings of love will ebb and flow in intensity over the years, the intention of love can endure.
3. You can boost your ability to love
Mindfulness can improve your ability to love in your marriage. Mindfulness combined with compassionate meditation decreases activity in the regions of the brain associated with fear and anger. Mindfulness also produces positive feelings including empathy, enabling us to be better interconnected with others, including our romantic partners.
4. Love improves physical health
A happy relationship, whether it includes romantic love or some other form of love, is crucial to living a long and healthy life. Science has confirmed that people who experience intense loneliness and isolation are at an increased risk of early death. Those who are deeply emotionally attached to someone else through a happy relationship, tend to feel fitter and live longer.
5. Love is contagious
Those people who share the basis traits of love, that is: compassion, empathy, and genuine caring usually inspire others to do the same. Having a strong and happy marriage allows you to model love as a gift to the world.
6. Love is not always spontaneous
Love requires honesty, trust, and vulnerability. In scientific terms, this means that the brain’s pre-frontal cortex has to send signals to the amygdala to overcome the automatic fight or flight response.
Those who have experienced trauma or abuse often have an over-developed fight or flight reaction that is extremely difficult to break through even with professional support. You cannot force a potential partner to love you, even if you buy them all the gifts in the world, so it may be wise not to wait around for that person to be ready.
Happy relationships are hard to define, a challenge to find, and are difficult to maintain, but science can help demystify the process to make it easier for you to find a meaningful, lasting and happy relationship and marriage of your own.