The secret to a happy marriage is simpler than you think

Publish Date
Tuesday, 7 November 2017, 11:30AM
Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

The secret to a happy marriage may be in making an effort with the small things.

Small gestures topped the list of things that make people feel loved, according to new research.

People agreed gestures such as snuggling with someone was more loving than someone simply saying, "I love you", researchers found. 

Over-the-top romantic gestures don't make people feel loved and controlling behaviours - like someone wanting to know where they were at all times - were seen a quick way to lose a relationship, the Daily Mail reports.

Researchers from Penn State's College of Health and Human Development found people were in agreement that there was more authenticity in loving actions than saying loving things.

"We found that behavioural actions - rather than purely verbal expressions - triggered more consensus as indicators of love", said postdoctoral research scholar Saeideh Heshmati.

Small gestures - like someone showing compassion or snuggling with a child was seen as one of the most loving actions.

The top scenarios for making someone feel loved was someone showing compassion when they were having a hard time, being snuggling up to, their pets being happy to see them and in fourth place someone saying "I love you", writes Times Live.  

Researchers recruited 495 American adults to answer a questionnaire about whether or not they thought most people would feel loved in 60 different scenarios.

The situations included positive actions, like being greeted by a pet; neutral scenarios, like feeling close to nature; and negative situations, like someone acting possessive.

After gathering the data, the researchers analysed it with a cultural consensus model - a framework for measuring the beliefs of a culture.

"Our results show that people do agree, and the top scenarios that came back weren't necessarily romantic", said Dr Heshmati. 

"So it is possible for people to feel loved in simple, everyday scenarios. It doesn't have to be over-the-top gestures".

Dr Heshmati said that while participants disagreed on some items - there was a near-even split, for example, on whether "someone giving you positive feedback on the internet" was loving or not - there were many instances where the participants agreed. 

Participants also agreed on what doesn't make people feel loved. Behaviours that could be seen as controlling were ranked among the least loving actions.

"If someone wants to know where you are at all times, or acts controlling, those actions are not loving to us. 

"There's research showing that in more communal societies, these types of controlling behaviours may be seen as affection. But here in America, we don't see it as loving", said Dr Heshmati.

Men generally knew much less about how to show love to someone than women, researchers found.

Previous research has shown men tend to think about the concept of love differently than women.

Additionally, people in a relationship and people with agreeable or neurotic personality traits tended to know more about the cultural consensus on how to make people feel loved.

Dr Heshmati said that even though the results may reflect how the American culture, in general, feels about love, individuals still can and do have their own personal feelings about what makes them feel loved.

"It may not be wise to go into a relationship assuming that both of you know the same things about feeling loved or that all of the same things will make you feel loved," Dr Heshmati said.

"I think it's important to communicate these things to each other, which can assist in being more in tune with each other and feeling loved in the relationship."


- Someone showing compassion when you're having a hard time

- Being snuggled up to you

 - Pets being happy to see you

- Someone saying 'I love you'

This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.