Just in time for Valentine’s Day and the rest of your life

“IT’S TRUE: it is more blessed to give. Men and women who scored high on a so-called generosity scale are far more likely to report that they are “very happy” in their marriages, especially among couples with children.

Researchers from (our own) University of Virginia National Marriage Project recently studied the role of generosity in the marriages of 2870 men and women. Defining generosity as, “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly” (such as simply making them coffee in the morning), researchers asked men and women how often they behaved generously toward their partners, how often they expressed affection, and how willing they were to forgive.

Among the parents who posted above average scores for marital generosity, about 50% reported being “very happy” together. Among those with lower generosity scores, only about 14% claimed to be “very happy.”

“In marriage we are expected to do our fair share when it comes to housework, childcare and being faithful, but generosity is going above and beyond the ordinary expectations with small acts of service and making an extra effort to be affectionate,” explains University of Virginia’s W. Bradford Wilcox, who led the research. “Living that spirit of generosity in a marriage does foster a virtuous cycle that leads to both spouses on average being happier in the marriage.”’

The New York Times magazine, December 11, 2011



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