Will Your Relationship Last? The Answers To These Two Questions Could Tell You, According To Researchers
Depending on how in touch you are with your feelings, determining whether you're in love can be tough at times. "Are these butterflies in my stomach or is it just indigestion?" you may find yourself wondering. "If we get married, is it going to end in divorce after less than a year, à la Kim Kardashian? I don't want to turn into Kim Kardashian." If this sounds familiar, congratulations! You're as neurotic as I am, and we should be friends. But even if you're a little more on the emotionally stable side of things, you'll probably still be interested to know that scientists have devised a way to "empirically" tell if you're in love — or at least whether you'll get divorced. After analyzing data from 4,242 couples, University of Virginia economists Leora Friedberg and Steven Stern claim they've discovered the secret to knowing whether a relationship will last, the Independent reports. So after years of philosophers pondering the nature of love and scientists trying to understand its social utility, surely this secret is pretty complicated, right? Actually, no. According to Freidberg and Stern, you can determine whether your relationship will stand the the test of time with the following two questions:
How happy are you in your marriage relative to how happy you would be if you weren't in the marriage?How do you think your spouse answered that question?
Pretty simple stuff, but the answers can speak volumes about a relationship. The economists asked volunteers these questions twice, six years apart, and found that the couples who said they would be just as happy outside the relationship were less likely to be together at the time of the follow-up. Only 41 percent of participants accurately gauged how their partners felt about the relationship, which is "at the root of many relationship problems," according to Friedberg and Stern. They linked this to bargaining theory, stating that when you don't have a good grasp of your partner's emotions, you end up bargaining "too hard" and contributing to the end of the relationship. Stern said to the Independent, "If I believe my wife is really happy in the marriage, I might push her to do more.... If, unbeknownst to me, she's actually just lukewarm about the marriage... she may decide those demands are the last straw."
According to the economists, we actually could all stand to negotiate a little harder, but we tend to back down because we care about our spouses' feelings. In fact, their model of love didn't make sense until they factored in "[getting]
some happiness from your spouse simply being happy." Not sure how they missed that the first time around, since it's kind of the basis of successful relationships, but I guess scientists can get a little wrapped up in empiricism at times.
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So what does this mean for you? Friedberg and Stern's main advice was "picking your battles," because driving a hard bargain all the time is just going to push your partner away. Remember that your partner's happiness is tied to your own, so it's in your best interest after all to do the dishes sometimes, even if you are terrified of accidentally getting your hand caught in the garbage disposal while it's on. Maybe don't mention that though, because then your partner will make fun of you for eternity and you'll still have to do the dishes. There's no way to win that one.
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