Friday, October 05, 2007

How to Revive Your Marriage

I was intrigued to read about this study a while back:
Treating Longtime Partner Like a First Date Can Boost Morale and Well-being

The quickest way for longtime couples to rekindle romance may be to pretend they’re strangers, according to a University of British Columbia psychology study.

By acting as if they’re on a first date, they’ll likely put their best face forward and end up having a better time, says investigator Elizabeth Dunn, an assistant professor at the UBC Dept. of Psychology.

“We make an extra effort when meeting strangers because we want them to like us,” says Dunn. “And by trying to be more pleasant, we end up actually feeling better – but we tend to overlook this benefit.”

Dunn’s co-investigators are UBC Psychology Asst. Prof. Jeremy Biesanz and former University of Virginia students Stephanie Finn and Lauren Human. Human is now a graduate student at UBC. . . .

The study, Misunderstanding the Affective Consequences of Everyday Social Interactions: The Hidden Benefits of Putting One’s Best Face Forward, will be published in the June 4, 2007 issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers asked 31 couples to interact with either their romantic partner or a stranger of the opposite sex and asked them how they felt about this. They found that the volunteers significantly underestimated how good they would feel after meeting a stranger, compared to interacting with their romantic partner.

In a subsequent study, the researchers asked long-term couples to interact with their partners as though they had never met, and found that the participants’ sense of well-being rose significantly.

Dunn says when people interact with close friends, family or romantic partners, they know they can get away with acting unpleasant, blasé or bored. But by making an effort to seem pleasant -- as people typically do when interacting with strangers or acquaintances -- their mood will naturally elevate.
So intrigued, in fact, that I was inspired to write this not-entirely-serious (or perhaps entirely-not-serious) email to the authors:
Dear Researchers,

I read with great interest your recent paper showing that if you pretend that your spouse is a stranger, as if it were your first date, a romance can be rekindled. Excited by this prospect, I showed the article to my wife, and we agreed to try this tactic.

I can report that it seems to work very well. We flirt with each other like we used to, and everything seems more positive. Except for one thing: My wife will no longer engage in . . . well, you know what. "I'm not that kind of girl," she says. I'm not sure that this is going to work in the long run.

Stuart Buck
It's been a few months, but for some reason, there's been no response.


Blogger "Q" the Enchanter said...

"It's been a few months, but for some reason, there's been no response."

No response from the authors, or from the Missus? ;o]

12:47 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...


It's this kind of post that makes my wife roll her eyes at the very thought of me having a blog.

3:13 PM  

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