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Want a Happy Marriage? Be Nice, Don't Nitpick

True Compatibility Doesn't Exist, so Shrug off Little Conflicts
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Secrets of a Happy Marriage continued...

A long-lasting, happy marriage is about knowing your partner, being supportive, and being nice. Research shows that, "for every one negative thing you do, there must be five positive things that balance it out," Boon tells WebMD. "Make sure to balance the negatives with positives. Your marriage has to be heavily in favor of the positives."

While it sounds easy -- and while it can be easy -- this commitment to being nice is no small matter, Boon says. "You have to do nice things often. But it's harder to be nice when the heat is on, when you're really angry, or when something has happened for the 15th time. Nevertheless, the balance must be heavily, heavily stacked in the positive, to have a happy marriage."

Also, couples must stay in touch with their special ways of repairing the relationship, Boon says. "It can be humor; it can be whatever helps diffuse the escalating heat. In happy marriages, couples naturally do this. They deflect the anger, and get back on an even keel."

A Happy Marriage Means Respecting Spouse

It's true, research has shown that couples in satisfying, happy marriages have more positive emotions in their interactions -- including discussions of problems, says Shae Graham Kosch, PhD, director of the behavioral medicine program in community health and family at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

Kosch has been married (to the same man) for 32 years. She has counseled unhappy couples just as long.

"Most marital conflicts don't ever get resolved," she tells WebMD. "There are always issues around in-laws, children. Solving the problems doesn't really matter. What's crucial is keeping things positive. You have to accept the other person's perspective, have an appropriate discussion without getting critical or blaming."

Other tips from Kosch: Men in good relationships don't react emotionally during conflicts. Men in bad relationships are more likely to withdraw from the discussion. They might actually leave the room, look at the ceiling, or tune out the conversation. Wives in negative relationships also get entrenched in their particular viewpoint and ultimately feel greater anger and contempt.

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