Another bonus is that enthusiastic responses—such as a partner who says “I’m really happy for you!”—make people feel even better about the event or news that they are sharing, and it puts the sharer into a better mood.
Couples who make a big deal celebrating positive things in life score higher than others on intimacy and relationship satisfaction. They are also less likely to break up. So pop open a bottle of champagne when that hard-earned promotion comes, take a walk together to celebrate a particularly wonderful day, jump up and down a little—and hug—when your partner reaches their exercise goal.
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And what about when things go wrong and the news isn’t so good? Still, be very responsive. Make sure that your partner feels understood, that their abilities and opinions are valued, and that you’ve made them feel cared for.
I’ve learned that small tweaks in the way we behave with our partners can make all the difference in the world. What small tweaks have improved your relationship? What types of things do you celebrate, and how do you do it?
Gable, Shelly L., Gian C. Gonzaga, and Amy Strachman, 2006, “Will You Be There for Me When Things Go Right? Supportive Responses to Positive Event Disclosures”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91 (5), 904–917.
Gable, Shelly L., and Natalya C. Maisel, 2009, “The Paradox of Received Social Support: The Importance of Responsiveness” Psychological Science, 20(8), 928-932.
Parker-Pope, Tara, 2010, For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, New York: Dutton.
© 2011 Christine Carter, Ph.D.
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This article originally appeared in Greater Good.