For young couples that means, stop talking to your girlfriends about everything that is wrong in your marriage (or romance). Early in marriage talking about problems with your spouse may help. But after you’ve tried that strategy for a while, and nothing gets better, because your husband just doesn’t like going to parties, and you do (or vice versa), the key to happiness in marriage is to stop ruminating about all the things you don’t like and focus on the bright side:
Gottman and Levenson (1999) reported perpetual marital challenges often concern fundamental differences between partners (e.g., one partner is more social) that may be difficult to resolve. Wile (1988) also added “[e]ach potential relationship has its own set of inescapable recurring problems…There is value in realizing that you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of irresolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty, or fifty years” (pp. 12-13). Avoiding discussing problems has proven an effective strategy later in life (Birditt & Fingerman, 2003), as such discussions may run counter to older adults’ primary goals of increasing positivity and intimacy.
Good news for husbands everywhere.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.