Happy Marriage by the Numbers


After reading this article I think I had better do something about my numbers. This Twitter business is very time consuming and I neglect a few of those numbers. So I better get to it.

Article By Pamela C. Regan, PhD
California State University

When 4,000 couples in the UK who had been married for more than 16 years, on average, were polled on the keys to a long-lasting relationship, some interesting facts were discovered. On average, these married couples wanted four cuddles a day… romantic gestures from their partners every 10 days… unsolicited helpful gestures three times a month… and seven cozy nights in and two dinner dates out a month.

We can make our own marriages happier by incorporating these “happy marriage behaviors” into our lives. Striving to give your spouse, say, four cuddles a day might start out feeling artificial but eventually will become a rich part of the fabric of your relationship. Because kindness reaps kindness in relationships, you will encourage your spouse to reciprocate.


In a long-term relationship, we tend to think romantic gestures are no longer necessary. But surprising your spouse with flowers or a romantic dinner reminds your partner that you still are in love with him/her. If you decide to run a bath for your wife because she had a bad day, it shows that you are thinking specifically about what would please her, and that thoughtfulness is far more important than even the action itself. To be truly romantic, don’t ask your partner what he might want. Instead come up with your own idea — something that shows great attention to your partner’s unique likes and dislikes.


Make sure to hug or affectionately touch your partner at least four times a day. The happiest couples touch a lot. Try a slight squeeze on the shoulder at breakfast or a hug before you run off to work.


Thoughtful actions that lighten a partner’s load are perceived as tender and caring — especially when done without anyone asking. Taking the initiative to do the dishes or make your spouse coffee in the morning shows that you are paying attention and makes your partner realize how central he/she is in your thoughts. You even can come right out and tell your partner, “I’m doing this because I love you and I want to make sure you know that.”


Your “cozy nights in” should be different from your everyday routine — make sure you aren’t parked in front of the television. Instead, have dinner together, talk about your week, make plans, check in about upcoming activities. Also, reserve special nights two times a month. Making the effort to dress up and go outside the family home together reinforces your “coupleness” and adds vitality to a relationship.

Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Pamela C. Regan, PhD, a professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Her work with thousands of couples over the years led her to write the book The Mating Game (Sage).


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