What are the distinguishing characteristics of a person who is happy in his or her relationship? Is there a checklist of key points to help you know if you’re making the right decision about whom to marry?
The Pemberton index, which appeared about 10 years ago, is a guide for analyzing a person’s happiness. It’s the result of a study originally carried out with 3,000 interviewees, using a questionnaire of more than 900 questions. This study was different from previous studies about happiness in that it covered many more factors.
Years later, the Pemberton index continues to yield valuable insights regarding the most varied aspects of people’s personalities and lives. One area that it speaks about is the characteristics of happy couples.
What are the foundations for a happy relationship? How can a couple improve their quality of life? Judging by the answers given by interviewees who participated in a study used to update the Pemberton index, the following are seven key characteristics:
It doesn’t matter if one of you has a widely respected profession and the other spouse doesn’t. What matters is that both spouses admire each other for whatever virtues or good qualities they may possess: their goodness, their organizational abilities, their personality (whether the spouses have similar personalities or completely different ones), their kindness, their good looks, their strength and persistence, their professional reputation, their attention to detail, their humility and ability to recognize their mistakes, the way they are full of passion … There is always something to admire, and whatever it is, it’s probably one of the reasons you fell in love in the first place. When spouses admire each other, it’s evident in their conversations with other people: you can tell not just from what they say, but from their tone of voice.
Spouses can rely on each other for unconditional support, despite their limitations due to their age, health, or temperament. Knowing that you can count on your spouse’s support now and in the future provides an atmosphere of peace and security to the relationship. It’s an essential factor for stability.
Knowing that you’re with someone who wants to love you forever gives you security and helps you to face challenges that otherwise would be beyond your strength. This is why marriage is so important, as a relationship that transcends the present. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation or health or age may be. Spouses should want to love each other forever, and commit themselves to fight to do so. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to be perfect, but it does mean they’ll try, and this brings great happiness to both.
Respect should increase as the spouses get to know each other and appreciate each other. Respect is not something subjective; it’s the result of loving each other profoundly and never wanting to offend each other. Someone who is respected feels well treated, cared for, and even coddled, and that’s important for marital happiness.
At any age, happiness as a couple requires creativity, originality, a “spark.” We have to overcome the tendency to become habituated to bad situations. We cannot let our hearts be at the mercy of our imagination. We can’t let our guard down, and we must work on our love every day. There’s a Spanish saying that goes like this: “No fly will dare go where the water is boiling.” If your marriage is alive, full of attention to details and animated by an adequate sexual relationship, it’s much more likely that neither of the spouses will allow their heart to drift towards other people, although others may try to get their attention.
6. Sense of humor
Couples who manage to see life and each other with a sense of humor are happier than those who don’t. Humor is vital for reducing tension, for seeing difficult moments with more detachment, for laughing at yourself, for being humble, and for recognizing your own mistakes, so you can laugh about them together. We can only be happy if we can deal with our own imperfections and those of our spouse with wisdom, love, and humor.
7. Shared fun experiences
Spouses who have fun with each other are happy! So, take time to travel, play sports, or do whatever you like to have fun, together. Try cooking new recipes, learn a new hobby, share jokes by text message … Or simply sit down on the sofa on Friday nights together, and begin to watch a new series on television.
These seven things may seem like common sense; we probably didn’t need a scientist to tell us about them. However, sometimes we need to be reminded of even the most obvious things — and a little extra motivation won’t do us any harm, because even though we can see how important these things are, that doesn’t make them easy.
Should you prioritize your marriage over your children?