Very Happy Spouses Usually Don't Divorce

A recent column in The New York Times Magazine affirms the age-old notion that generosity is a positive character attribute, especially in marriage. So for those of us who have not achieved the ratio of “at least five positive things for each negative interaction” with our partners, it’s worthwhile to note the difference between being content and “very happy.”  2,870 people participated in the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, and giving “freely and abundantly” was considered the third most important indicator of a truly, “very happy” marriage (after sexual intimacy and commitment).

If generosity toward your spouse is a big part of a loving partnership, does that mean we have to give big gifts? According to the article, the simple promise of unconditionally making coffee for one’s spouse is an incredible kindness. It makes sense that little things really do matter, especially when we consider the marriages in question were already deemed successful in more traditional aspects, including shared housework and child care.

It also makes sense that children of generous parents are more likely to exercise a giving, too. Studies indicate generous spouses foster their own partnerships as well as their children’s, thanks in part to “the little things.”