Understandably, people always want to know how they can have a good, solid relationship that withstands the test of multiple decades. Researchers dedicate their life’s work to better understanding human psychology in order to help people maintain better relationships.
While many studies reveal “good communication,” “common interests,” and “frequent sex” to be “the most important qualit[ies] in marriage,” more recent studies are revealing an interesting new twist (1, 2). According to John Gottman, published author and American psychological researcher, generosity is actually one of the most important ingredients in long-lasting relationships (3).
According to Gottman, marital success is heavily dependent upon what two people bring to the table together, mainly: do they bring kindness and generosity, or contempt, criticism, and hostility (3)? Gottman’s research heavily identifies kindness and generosity as going hand-in-hand in relationships and the presence of these ingredients a showing sign that the relationship will last (3).
If you are looking to apply these traits to your relationship in order to make it last for years, here are three things to keep in mind:
#1. Even if you are not naturally generous or kind, you can learn to be.
According to a 2007 study, some people are born with varying levels of natural generosity. Dr. Ariel Knafo, the lead researcher, explained that there is a strong “relationship between DNA variability and real human altruism” (4). While this certainly doesn’t mean that anyone is doomed to selfishness, it just reveals evidence for one’s inclination towards it and means you should treat generosity as a muscle to be exercised (1). In the same way that you begin your first workout routine with smaller weights, slower speeds, and less distance, then build over time, generosity must be exercised and strengthened over time (1). The more you work at it, the better you’ll be at it (4).
#2. Generosity is not about score keeping and it comes in more forms than gifts.
Buying affection or giving right up until it hurts to give is not a healthy or generous display of giving. Giving gifts and offering money are also not the only types of generosity that help relationships (1). True generosity doesn’t take place in only caring for yourself in order to feel superior or free of guilt; rather, it comes in the form of forgiveness, apologies, offering the benefit of the doubt to your partner, and having a genuine desire to make your partner feel loved (1). A generous heart is key to a strong relationship (1). Don’t sweat the small stuff.
#3. Practicing consistent acts of generosity will improve your relationship and sex life!
Offering your partner what they want and enjoy rather than what you want and enjoy (or what you think they should want and enjoy) is a necessity of a healthy relationship, going well beyond the bedroom. While selfish sex is bad sex, and good foreplay that leads straight into good sex cannot even begin without generosity, this mentality of generosity is important to repeat in more areas than just sexual pleasure (1). Letting your partner know that you love them enough to offer them what they love over what you love, and also showing the appropriate appreciation and thankfulness in response to an act of generosity of theirs, is valuable in maintaining a relationship that lasts.
There you have it. What are ways you can show generosity to your loved one?