According to researchers at the University of Virginia Marriage Project, the best indicator of marital happiness is not sexual intimacy or frequency or even communication between spouses - it's generosity.
"In marriage we are expected to do our fair share when it comes to housework, child care and being faithful, but generosity is going above and beyond the ordinary expectations with small acts of service and making an extra effort to be affectionate,” reported the University of Virginia’s W. Bradford Wilcox, who spearheaded the research. “Living that spirit of generosity in a marriage does foster a virtuous cycle that leads to both spouses on average being happier in the marriage.”
Dr. Wilcox and his team have identified a fundamental truth of not only marital happiness but relational happiness in general. Life is far more exciting and fulfilling when we forget about our own cares and desires and invest in the lives of other people. Ironically, it is the self-consumed person who strives after that which they think will make them happy that is the most unhappy of all.
If you're struggling or currently meandering in the doldrums within your own marriage, exhibiting a spirit of generosity toward your spouse is a good place to start if you want to turn the tide.
Here's a challenge for today: Between now and bedtime, do five kind and generous things for your spouse. Keep in mind, generosity has little, if anything, to do with money. This won’t cost you a dime. Generosity is about giving of yourself. So pay your spouse a compliment. Check out a book you think they'd like from the library. Make them a cup of coffee. Slip an encouraging note under the pillow. Surprise them by doing one of their household chores. I believe you'll be encouraged by the results.
Remember, it was Jesus Himself who said it best:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
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About Jim Daly
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. He is husband to Jean and father to Trent and Troy.
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