How Relational Health Correlates with Happiness

“The number one thing to change to be happier.”

Changing just one thing to be happier sounds too good to be true. Dr. Robert Waldinger completed an interview to share the findings from his substantial research on happiness. What he shares will have a profound impact on everyday lives if implemented properly. The research he presents demonstrates that improving the quality of one’s relationships strongly correlates to greater levels of happiness. Human beings are innately social creatures and every person possesses a longing for meaningful, healthy relationships. Maintaining these relationships requires intentionality and purpose. Without proper attention, relationships cannot thrive. According to Dr. Waldinger’s profound research, relational health creates the best chance for happiness.

One does not achieve relational wellness passively. John Gottman’s research on couples revealed that healthy couples have a positive to negative interaction ratio of 20 to 1, meaning that for every one negative interaction, a healthy couple creates 20 positive interactions. This statistic highlights the need to actively increase daily positive connections with a spouse. Attempting to achieve this mark appears daunting. Reaching the 20 to 1 ratio demands intentionally pursuing one another. Couples will not reach that mark with only a few connecting moments. Relationships absent of deliberate pursuit are at risk. Couples can actively turn away from each other or slowly drift apart. This relational fragmentation results in people feeling distant, disconnected and alone. Ultimately, poor relationships are evidence of a lost opportunity for a life filled with connection and increased happiness.

I see relational difficulties everyday in my work doing couples therapy. With couples, any relationship troubles get exacerbated by a lack of purposefully seeking each other through the challenges. In my office, I am often told by people that life becomes too busy. Jobs, kids, and endless housework create a sense of daily chaos. Unfortunately, in the midst of chaos, spending time with our spouse gets left off the to-do list. Then the sense of connection, fulfillment, and joy that was once in the relationship gets slowly drained away.

Choosing to meaningfully reconnect with your spouse despite life’s disruptions will bring hope for more happiness. Happiness that will not only make an impact on a marriage, but also for personal well being and joy in life. Everybody needs relationships, so choose to pour into them and reap the benefits both in the relationship and within yourself.