Why Being ‘Delusional’ Is The Real Secret To A Happy Marriage

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Many people think you're downright CRAZY to get married these days.

Well, it turns out that being full-on "crazy" isn’t necessary, just a little bit delusional.

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Researchers from the University at Buffalo and the University of British Columbia found that being delusional about your spouse is one of the biggest secrets to a long and loving marriage.

Social psychologists surveyed 200 newly married couples twice a year for three years. They asked participants questions about positive traits (i.e. kindness and honesty) and negative traits (i.e. being argumentative) in their relationship. Each spouse rated their partner, themselves, and their idea of an ideal, imaginary partner who they see as their perfect match.

Spouses who held a rosy view of their partner were happier and more satisfied with their relationships than those who 'realistically' see their partner as she or he actually is.

This effect of seeing someone as better than they really are is called "idealization."

Idealization was further defined as seeing traits in the partner that the partner did not believe he or she actually possesses. And spouses who held that rosy view of their partner (even when that partner denied possessing those ideal traits) still reported a higher level of happiness and satisfaction in their marriage

This explains what most of us experience when we fall out of love.

The idealistic view you initially held of your ‘true love’ fades as their real quirks and habits appear. 

So, how does this apply to your marriage and your partner? Is it wise to remain a little blind to your partner's shortcomings? Or, will reality rob you of those rose-colored glasses eventually? 

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It turns out — what you look for determines what you see.

If you look for a kind and loving partner, you primarily notice your spouse's behaviors that reflect this. If you believe your partner is distant or argumentative, you will notice primarily those behaviors, instead.

What's really interesting is that when we give our partners the benefit of the doubt, they often step up. Our positive recognition of what they do well usually encourages them to do more of it, creating an even better relationship as a result.

So, why not look for the positive in your partner and feel happier in your relationship? 

No — focusing on the positive does not mean ignoring bad behavior.

Having a rose-colored view of our partner does not mean willfully turning a blind eye to toxic behavior (seeing a bad relationship through a distorted lens is not healthy). Nor does it mean wanting your partner to act like someone she or he is not.

The magic of "idealization" is believing that your partner already is that ideal person. 

In most relationships, the good actually does outweigh the bad even if you fail to take notice of that fact. 

So, if you want a happier marriage, try softening the lens through which you view your partner. Start to notice the love and supportive things he or she does. Aim for noticing positive things at least three times per day and share with your partner how much you appreciate him or her.

Because there is truth in those immortal words: Love is blind. Or at least, love is a little near-sighted.

RELATED: Can Love Really Be 'Blind'?

Lesli Doares is a therapist, coach, and the founder of a practical alternative for couples worldwide looking to improve their marriage without traditional therapy.