The secret to a lasting marriage? Being happy for one another! Brain scans reveal how strong couples share each other’s joy…
How your partner reacts to your good news could reveal how long your relationship will last. This is according to a new study that looked at the brains of happily married couples to find out their secret to a lasting marriage.
Researchers in Canada studied the brain signals of married, elderly women, while they watched their husbands experience positive emotions.
The study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, found happily married women were more sensitive to their husband’s unexpected positive emotions than to their negative ones.
‘Many of us tend to think we choose partners who help us work on our issues, and of course, that’s part of what happens in good relationships,’ Dr Duana Welch told DailyMail.com.
‘But science increasingly shows that we choose one another for how good they make us feel.’
The Rotman Research Institute in Toronto studied 14 women with the average who been married for an average of 40 years, according to a report in Science of Us.
Each woman was shown a silent ten-second videos of either her husband or a stranger while they displayed an emotion that mismatched the way the video clip was labelled.
For instance, the clip may have been labelled ‘wedding day’, but instead the footage showed the husband’s reaction to remembering a car crash.
The videos were designed to make the volunteers feel confused and surprised about the reaction.
Overall, the women produced more brain activity when watching the videos of their husbands – but only when they videos showed surprisingly positive emotions.
In footage when the men appeared to display unusually negative emotions, the womens’ brains showed just as much overall activity for both a stranger and her husband.
Women who scored higher on relationship satisfaction, according to a filled out questionnaire, also showed more brain activity in regions that trigger empathy.
‘Many studies show that the happiest couples are the most emotionally interdependent,’ added Dr Welch, who was not involved in the study.
Dr Welch, who is the author of Love Factually, cites how happy couples mirror one another’s facial expressions more than unhappy couples do.
‘That may actually be why happy couples tend to look more and more alike as the decades pass,’ she said.
‘When a woman recently asked me how she could work on her problems with her husband more effectively, I advised her to begin by noticing positive emotions,’ added Dr Welch. ‘It worked.’
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