Photo: Flickr / Angelo González
A new study out later this year in the journal Psychological Science indicates that just three seven-minute online sessions over a one-year period could have a drastic impact on how happy you are in your relationship.”I don’t want it to sound like magic, but you can get pretty impressive results with minimal intervention,” study researcher Eli Finkel, of Northwestern University, said in a press release from the journal.
The online sessions were writing exercises in which the couples recalled their most recent disagreement with their partner, and explained it from the perspective of a neutral bystander. They were also prompted to try to approach their fights in this way in the future.
The study involved 120 married couples (their average age was 40, and on average they had been married for 11 years) that were studied every four months for two years. They reported on their relationship satisfaction, love, intimacy, trust, passion, and commitment. Half of the couples did the writing exercise three times in their second year of study, the other half didn’t.
Normally, marital satisfaction of couples goes down each year that researchers perform these studies, but in the test group, that drop didn’t continue through year two. Couples who did the writing exercise fought just as frequently about equally severe topics, but were less distressed by these fights and kept their happiness up.
“Not only did this effect emerge for marital satisfaction, it also emerged for other relationship processes — like passion and sexual desire — that are especially vulnerable to the ravages of time,” Finkel said. “And this isn’t a dating sample. These effects emerged whether people were married for one month, 50 years, or anywhere in between.”
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