Love, Family

'Tis The Season! 4 Signs You Have A Giving Relationship

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Studies show that being a generous partner not only makes for a happier relationship, but actually provides health benefits for both partners. But how can you tell how generous you are? Many people have trouble assessing this personality trait, and tend to overestimate their own generosity. Others are chronic "givers," letting their significant other walk all over them and often not even knowing it. 

How does your relationship stack up on the generosity scale? The New York Times recently posted a quiz of four questions that researchers from the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project used to measure generosity, higher levels of which predict a stronger and happier relationship. The questions are:

1. How often do you express affection or love to your partner? (Answer options for each question are: Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Often, Always)

2. How often do you express respect or admiration to your partner?

3. How often do you perform small acts of kindness for your partner (like making him or her coffee in the morning)?

4. How often do you forgive your partner for his or her mistakes and failings?

Some of our coupled-up staff members took this quiz, with varying results. We agree, of course, that affection, respect, kindness and forgiveness all contribute to a happy relationship. But just how often are you supposed to express these things and what does expressing them mean? One of our editors, Genevieve, had doubts about how effective the quiz is at measuring generosity:

"I answered 'often' to all four questions — my result? You're average; try harder. Really? Who are the 'above-average' folks answering 'always' to questions like 'How often do you express affection or love to your partner?' If we're going on dictionary definitions (and shouldn't we be?) 'always' means 'at all times; on all occasions.' So anyone who selected this as the response to a question like that is either lying or doesn't understand English. Because always expressing love or admiration for a partner would mean there was never room to talk about other things, like jobs, kids or the weather. I know the National Marriage Project researchers know their stuff when it comes to studying marriage, but I do have my doubts about the quality of this quiz."

So we would recommend the quiz — and anything on the Internet that purports to tell you whether your relationship is on the rocks or not (yes, even a lot of this site!) — with a grain of salt. Follow your instincts and use these four questions about generosity as general guidelines. Should you be doing each of these four things every day? Absolutely. Are you a bad partner because you're not doing them 100% of the time? Absolutely not.

Visit the New York Times to take the quiz yourself: Quiz: Do You Have A Generous Relationship?