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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?

Join The Conversation
MissSushi MissSushi 7 years
I think the "think happy be happy" thing is more for couples who are already having problems in their relationships and have resorted to a defensive state where they are constantly sniping at each other for past wrongs no matter how things are going currently. I don't think that automatically means they should end their relationship/marriage. Basically, you have to make a point to forgive past wrongs, and start looking and acting in a more positive way, which will translate to your day to day life and your partner, and will escalate positively. It's not really being portrayed here correctly, it's not about faking happiness, it's about thinking more positively so that you can BE positive.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Truthfully, this article is lost on me, which I think speaks well to my marriage. I agree -- pretending to be happy is NOT the answer to an unhappy marriage. That's a bad idea on many levels. Also, that speaks to being fake, which I personally disdain, and I would NEVER adopt that behavior. I'm too old to be fake. Additionally, life is too short to be in a fake, pretend-to-be-happy marriage. Yuck.
French-Kiss French-Kiss 7 years
always* not often sorry. "Pretending the problem doesn't exist will not make the problem go away." Totygoliguez, well i agree, but after years and years of problems, i mean, of frustration and unsaid things, and years without conversation,i think there is a point where we can't say everything, because there are too many things acumulated. A point of no return. We all made our judgements, and it's all done, we just have to deal with it or leave. So you just act as if things were ok, most of the time.
French-Kiss French-Kiss 7 years
"why be together if you aren't genuinely happy?" Skigurl, after 5 kids and no job since 15 years (= no independance), i guess you just stay where you are, like my mother does. That is really sad, but there is very few to do. To answer Tres and the article, i would say, for what i saw with my parents, yes it is hopeless, however, it permitts to keep the house a bit calm, which is not often possible.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
If you pretend things are OK when they are not, of course you will have an unhappy marriage. Pretending the problem doesn't exist will not make the problem go away. I think that it is important to talk about the issue, resolve it and move on--some people hold grudges and that also kills the relationship. Things need to be talked about and resolved that instant. Pretending you are happy will not make you happy. " Fake it 'till you make it" doesn't always work.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
spacekat, I absolutely agree with discussing disagreements privately. I don't even discuss the disagreements we have with others even once they are resolved. Of course everyone has disagreements (we do!) but we're also genuinely happy so we just resolve the issues as they come up and find ways to solve the problem, and move on. And I also make an effort to stay happy and positive no matter how I'm feeling because I know there's no point in getting dramatic about a little thing when overall our relationship is wonderful.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
Thankfully I am in a good relationship where I am truly happy with the one I'm with. In general, I do not think I am a happy person. I'm not miserable, but I also can't act cheerful all the time like some people can. I'd like to work on being more cheerful and being happier...I think it would be beneficial. I'm an apathetic person, sometimes it sucks. Just because I'm not miss happy-go-lucky, it doesn't mean I've doomed my relationship. I act happy enough, and I definitely do not spew negativity into my relationship because I'm as optimistic and positive as they come. I've never faked happiness in my relationship. If I felt unhappy, I would stop the charade and end our relationship.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
why be together if you aren't genuinely happy?
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