The secret of couples who last is humor. Have you been in a relationship for a long time, and feel like you’re struggling with your other half for trifles? Do not be discouraged: a second honeymoon awaits you .
This is highlighted by a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and published in the journal Emotion.
According to them, while the first years of a marriage are often marked by disagreements, conflicts gradually give way to humor and tenderness as the couple ages.
Marriage is good for mental health
To conclude that “old couples” replaced conflicts with humor, the researchers analyzed video conversations of 87 elderly and married couples for 15 to 35 years. They followed their emotional interactions for 13 years. They found that as they grew older, husbands and wives showed more tenderness and humor in their relationship .
At the same time, scientists realized that the more years passed, the more negative behaviors such as resentment or criticism tended to decrease.
For researchers, these results clearly show that “marriage is beneficial for the mental health” of people in a relationship. They also question the theory that emotions deteriorate within a couple as the years go by. “Our findings shed light on one of the great paradoxes of the end of life,” says the study’s lead author, Robert Levenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Berkeley. “Despite the loss of friends and family, seniors living in stable marriages are relatively happy and experience low rates of depression and anxiety, and marriage has been beneficial to their mental health.”
The older we get, the more positive we are
This new longitudinal study also reinforces what other studies have already considered: women express their emotions more than their husbands. But as they get older, they tend to be more domineering and less affectionate. But in general, researchers note that negative behaviors tend to decrease over time.
“Given the links between positive emotion and health, these results highlight the importance of intimate relationships with the age of the people and the potential health benefits associated with marriage,”
The results are the latest in a 25-year Berkeley-led, Robert Levenson-led study of more than 150 long-term marriages. Participants, most of whom are between the ages of 70 and 80, are heterosexual couples from the San Francisco Bay Area whose dating relationships have been followed since 1989.
In their spousal investigation, the researchers examined the 15-minute interactions between spouses in a laboratory where they discussed shared experiences and conflict zones. They followed the emotional changes every few years.
Spousal listening and speaking behaviors were coded and scored according to their facial expressions, body language, verbal content and tone of voice. The researchers found that middle-aged and older couples, regardless of their relationship satisfaction, experienced an increase in their positive emotional behaviors with age, while their negative emotional behaviors.
“These findings provide consistent behavioral evidence with research suggesting that as we age, we focus more on the positive aspects of our lives,”
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