Marriage success means liking not lusting
With more than 50% of marriages ending in divorce and more couples staying together despite their discontentment, it seems Americans have missed the mark on what is really important when they are looking for happy ever after in marriage with a spouse.
Although many of us are initially drawn to another person based on what we in the modern age term “chemistry” it seems there’s overwhelming evidence that sexual chemistry, while important, may not be the best gage of everlasting, enduring love in marriage.
So if sexual chemistry isn’t the key to a happy marriage what is? New studies suggest that a better strategy may be to focus on key components of compatibility, which provide a better indicator of rewarding love in the modern world. According to Ty Tashiro, Discovery Network’s relationship expert and University of Maryland professor, in his forthcoming book, “The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love.” He believes that too many people have focused on infatuation rather than compatibility.
“Sometimes I am asked why infatuation and the feelings that accompany it, such as butterflies in the stomach or a racing heart, cannot last,” Tashiro writes in his book. “These visceral feelings are powerful feelings of lust, and they cannot last for a simple reason; you would die. Such sensations equate to stress and high blood pressure that, should they continue unabated, could become toxic,” he explains. “So, even though the lust component of being in love drives a very intense and visceral type of emotional experience, the intensity of passionate love is necessarily ephemeral.”
What traits predict a successful marriage?
So if you are not supposed to focus on the “feelings” of romantic love, what should you look for? Tashiro believes that if you have to choose between lusting or liking someone, you’re better off picking someone you really like. The feelings associated with lust are fleeting. In fact, most of those feelings will be gone within the first year. But if you really enjoy your spouse, if they are your best friend and you’d rather be with them than anyone else, your chances of being happy are high.
In fact, Tashiro has identified three traits that can be most useful in a relationship- agreeableness, lack of neuroticism and lack of seeking novelty. Agreeableness can be defined as a general sense of pleasantness. I call this the annoyance factor. Your partner should be the person who annoys you the least. Lack of neuroticism, which can be defined as a low degree of mood swings, is also something we all should avoid. Finally, novelty seeking is associated with “impulsive decision making, extravagance in approach to reward cues, and quick loss of temper and avoidance of frustration.” How does it manifest itself? Individuals might lose their temper too easily, become easily bored and make decisions too quickly.
Do we expect too much from our relationships?
But what is the main problem with today’s marriages? Tashiro believes it may have to do with unrealistic expectations. He believes individuals in today’s modern society have started putting more demands on other people than at any other time in history. Not only should you really like your partner, he also believes it may be time to lower your expectations from your spouse and really start to appreciate them everyday.