- How can I make my partner [fill-the-blank: communicate more, drink less, eat better, etc.]
- Is co-dependency a thing?
- How did [I, my sibling, my friend] get so lucky/unlucky with my/his/her spouse?
- How do I get over a breakup?
- Is it true that I need to "love myself first" before someone else can love me?
- Is it true that I'll end up with someone who is just like my father/mother?
I got married recently, and I jokingly told my friends that this was a completely rational, empirically-informed decision. There is a lot of evidence (including from our own research) that marriage has numerous health protecting benefits, and that spouses regulate one another's health-related behavior in visible and invisible ways. (Of course, there is also evidence that these benefits accrue to men more than women).
This joking around got me thinking--What would an evidence-based marriage look like? Could I take what I learn as a scientist and practically implement it? Where would one even start? I have a few initial ideas, which I will explore in later posts:
- Sometimes it's better to NOT know what your partner is thinking!
- Do new things together to maintain interest.
- How you fight matters, but what happens after the fight is "over" matters, too (and the two are related).
- It pays to idealize your partner's (objectively annoying) habits.
- Being conspicuously supportive of your partner can backfire.
- Want to change your partner's behavior? Leverage your relationship!
- Don't unintentionally reinforce a partner's behavior that you don't like.
- Your partner's behavior makes sense to them and in the context of their own developmental history--work with that instead of against it.