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Acting Happy Won't Make You Happy in Marriage

Acting Happy Won't Make Your Marriage Happy

Common sense may say couples who are nicer, less critical, and more forgiving last, but science now says nice is not for everyone. In fact, the only couples who benefit from acting happy are those who genuinely are happy.

While couples who interact with courtesy, love, and respect have the best chance of lasting, forced positive thoughts and actions are not behind it; rather, their solid marriage makes positive communication possible. Those who confront frequent problems — blaming behavior on the other, commanding change, or lodging insults — will not only not benefit from forgiveness, but will also just be worse off. A turned head may avoid one fight, but it leads to two others.

"We need to rethink the role of positivity in relationships," said the psychologist James McNulty. "It's likely to be more nuanced in its benefits — it may benefit only some couples, and further, most importantly, it actually may harm other couples."

On one hand, it's good news. Fakeness can be insufferable, so anything to discourage it is a-OK with me. But for couples in the not-genuinely-happy category, does it feel a bit hopeless to you?

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