“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.” -Abraham Lincoln

In addition to letting you become immortal, self-expansion can also completely change a marriage in just 7 minutes.

During the early stages of romance lovers share new knowledge and experiences, promoting rapid self-expansion. However, this soon tapers off.

As NYT columnist Tara Parker-Pope explains in her intriguing book For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, one way to promote self-expansion in a relationship is simply to do something novel and exciting.

In a study by Arthur Aron, married couples were randomized to spend 1.5 hours a week for 10 weeks doing either (a) what they would normally do, (b) something familiar and pleasant, or (c) something new and exciting.

Simply spending time together did not enhance their relationships. The couples who did normal or pleasant things experienced no change. But doing exciting things led to significant increases in marital satisfaction. Not only did the exciting couples have more fun during the 10 weeks, they actually viewed their entire marriage more favorably afterward.

The same thing happened in another study when couples did either a boring or exciting version of a 7-minute task. The couples were more in love after the exciting version.

Maybe a bit of self-expansion can rescue a marriage from “purgatory”?



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