Building Happiness In Relationships

Building Happiness In Relationships



In the article, Love the One You’re With – December 2021 issue of Psychology Today, Art Markman, Ph.D., considers the idea of building happiness in relationships.  Dr. Markman writes that humans are a special species that generally like being around each other compared to being alone.  He poses the question, “does spending time with family, friends, or partners, make us happier than spending time with non family?”  He indicates that the answer depends on how we define happiness.  He discusses a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In the study, the participants charted their daily activities like commuting, childcare, and socializing.  Participants also reported who they were with (children, their partner, other family members, friends or coworkers) and their mood during the activity.  Finally, they rated their overall emotional state and sense of life satisfaction.

The study found the following:

* When doing a “fun” activity, participants rated their happiness was higher with friends, followed by partners, then children.

* Participants tend to engage in more enjoyable activities like “socializing” or “watching television” with friends.

* Participants engage more frequently in daily tasks like: “cleaning” or “care-taking” with partners and their children.

* When compared “head to head” participants were just as happy spending time with partners or children as with friends.

*  Overall happiness and life satisfaction increased when spending time with a partner.

Pleasant activities tend to bring us joy, regardless of whom we are with, it may be that deliberately engaging in more enjoyable activities with our partner could increase a person’s “in the moment” happiness.  It also appears that couples who spend time engaged in chores and less fun activities will result in more fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

It appears that people in relationships can benefit from engaging in both fun and investment (daily task) activities.  Both types of activities can help build happiness in relationships.


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