Scientifically, men and women who commit to life-long relationships, regardless of the gender mix, not only live longer but have much happier and healthier lives than their single counterparts. This is especially true when times are dark, such as in a significant economic downturn or a public health crisis. It seems we all crave the support of a loved one to share pain, sorrow, elation, happiness and life experiences, good and bad.
Unfortunately there are as many hits as misses when it comes to partnering with a soul mate. In a world of eight billion people, there are no shortage of those who aren't "the one." A pessimist would see this as an impossible situation, especially if they believe there is only one perfect mate for someone. I don't believe that, but rather, as an optimist, that life is what you make of it. People who are somewhat compatible can make an even better couple than those who seem to be 100% compatible. Once a connection is made, the success of a couple can be a mixture of morals, temperament, respect, past experiences and openness to love. In my opinion, a majority of couples have what it takes.
We all know those couples who met as kids, married out of high school and were married their entire adult lives. For most of us, that is an impossible bar to reach, meaning that very few people meet their soulmate that early in life. Normally it takes time and effort, knowing oneself, and being open to possibilities. I stayed in a marriage in which I started out thinking I would be with my wife forever, then found out in just a few years that it was not the case. After 26 years I divorced, then married my actual soulmate, and I was her third husband. That was nearly 20 years ago. We were across the country from each other but still managed to meet, fall in love and move in together. There is no rule of thumb when it comes to coupling. Researchers have found that couples who are hostile to each other have more stress hormones in their systems and have generally less healthy lives. Fortunately, the opposite is also true, which means that it is well worth any effort to be with a partner with whom you can enjoy life.
Happiness can be fleeting and you can't force it upon yourself. However, you can recognize when you experience it and rejoice in a life worth living. A spouse, significant other, a life partner, a POSSLQ, or however you want to define your committed partner, they are one of the keys to a happy life. The tenet, "Happy wife, happy life," could really be used to describe any partner in a relationship. Most of the happy couples we know don't argue, they discuss respectively, the difference being that, in the latter, the need to win is missing. They, like us, want the best for their spouse or partner, and that is the priority.
According to Psychology Today, "Good relationships make people happy because a dependable companionship is a basic human need. Improving social relationships will bring our happiness score up. There is strong consensus in the field of positive psychology that the number and depth of personal relationships has the greatest effect of all on happiness. And the relationship where vast numbers of people derive that greatest boost to their well-being is in their marriage.
Watch any long-time couple and you may see a symphony of synchronicity. Each knows how to make the other feel good and they do so in little ways all the time, anticipating needs and accommodating as they can.
Repeating the Psychology Today column, "a dependable companionship is a basic human need." There it is. When looking for things that make us happy, a companion is one of the most basic. Don't take it for granted and do the little things to nurture your relationship. Together, a couple can weather storms and enjoy life together so much better than individuals alone. Revel in it.
I'll close with a quote from late English actor and entertainer Bruce Forsyth, who once said, "The secret to a happy marriage is if you can be at peace with someone within four walls, if you are content because the one you love is near to you, either upstairs or downstairs, or in the same room, and you feel that warmth that you don't find very often, then that is what love is all about."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.