Being there for a partner when times are tough is important, but research shows it could be more impactful for a marriage when partners enthusiastically react to good news and successes of their spouse.
By observing elderly women who had been married an average of 40 years, researchers found that heightened awareness and empathy were displayed while watching both negative and positive displays of emotion from their partner.
Researchers also found that relationship satisfaction was related to how much more aware participants became of their spouse and their spouse's feelings, specifically when the spouse displayed positive emotions in the study.
"Whereas emotional support from a partner when we're down can have the unfortunate side-effect of making us feel indebted and more aware of our negative emotions, a partner's positive reaction to our good news can magnify the benefits of that good fortune and make us feel closer to them," wrote Science of Us.
Previous studies have also found similar results, with one study published by the American Psychological Association in 2006 finding that sharing and celebrating successes and triumphs is a crucial part of relationships.
"When something good happens to your partner, it's a terrific opportunity to strengthen the relationship — that's what this study really says," said Art Aron, a social psychologist not involved in the study, according to The New York Times.
Two months after participants of the study had responded to questions and were observed reacting to news from their partners, they were asked the same questions about their relationship. Reaction to good news — whether "with excitement or passive approval, shared pride or indifference" — heavily indicated the success and strength of the relationship, wrote the Times.
Positive events that happen throughout the duration of a relationship will usually outnumber negative events by at least four to one, so more comes from "amplifying life's rewards than by soothing its bruises, as important as that is," said Shelly Gable, one of the study's researchers, according to the Times.
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