Countless couples will marry this year. Not all of them will live happily ever after. But there is a scientific secret to maintaining lasting and fulfilling relationships. Researchers say: Simply be kind.
“Longitudinal, experimental and evolutionary science all testify to the surprising power of kindness,” says Doug Carnine, PhD, University of Oregon Professor Emeritus and author of the book How Love Wins. Decades of research point to the centrality of kindness in stable, long-lasting relationships. In fact, kindness can even contribute to longevity itself.
A study of 423 married seniors over a five-year period found that those who showed the most kindness to their spouses cut their risk of dying in half. In one study, researchers created small wounds on the arms of couples; the wounds literally healed faster in couples that were kinder to each other. As one researcher wrote, “The benefits of kindness may be more important than what you think, more so than regular physical activity and following a nutritious diet.”
Being kind might be easier than you imagine. Carnine contends that we actually have a kindness instinct. “It’s one of our four basic human instincts that has evolved over thousands of years. The other three are survival, success and reproduction. The title of a recent article in Scientific American underscored the importance of the kindness instinct: Forget survival of the Fittest. It’s Kindness that Counts.”
From the Glasers