A Portland Relationship Counselor Says Generosity Can Help Your Marriage

December 29, 2011 by

As a Portland relationship counselor, I try to pay attention to new research and trends so that I can better help my clients with their marriage problems. Recently I ran across a study about how generosity between partners can make your relationship feel satisfying, even in the face of other issues.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. They quizzed 2,870 married men and women on the role of generosity in their relationships. As it was defined, generosity could mean anything from expressing affection and forgiving your spouse to simply making coffee for them in the morning.

The people who scored highest in generosity – not the ones whose spouses are being generous to them, but those who act generously to their significant others – reported the fewest marriage problems and had the highest likelihood of calling their relationship “very happy.”

I often talk about commitment, communication, and intimacy, but being generous towards each other is something that seems to be just as important.

Portland Relationship Counselor: Better for Couples, Better for Children

Interestingly, whether or not you are generous in your relationship seemed to have even more of an effect on those couples with children. Only 14 percent of those with lower generosity scored were “very happy,” compared to 50 percent with higher scores.

Part of this may be attributed to the finding that more generous parents have more generous offspring, creating a sort of cycle of good feelings in the family. Even better, researchers believe that generous children are more likely to continue the behavior, which should lead to better relationships – and fewer marriage problems! – for them.
How can you and your partner become “generous”? John Gottman, a noted marriage researcher, finds that happy “generous” couples say or do five positive things for every negative interaction. If you would like to learn what you and your spouse can do to show your generosity towards each other, contact a Portland relationship counselor today.