Tags: compromise | behavioral | routines | emotions

Real Quality Time Is Best Spent Together

quality romantic time

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Tuesday, 24 September 2019 05:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Research Reveals Intentional Ways to Improve Romantic Relationships

Most couples can attest to the value of spending quality time together. This time often includes sharing experiences — participating together in activities both partners enjoy.

But beyond personal pleasure, does shared enjoyment bring couples closer together?

According to research, the answer appears to be yes.

Sharing and Savoring: There Is a Difference

Katherine A. Lenger and Cameron L. Gordon in their study, "To Have and to Savor," (2019) examined the relationship between savoring and relational satisfaction. They defined savoring as the “tendency to attend to and enjoy previous, current, and future positive events." They further defined three components of savoring as "savoring in anticipation, savoring the present moment, and savoring in reminiscence."

Lenger and Gordon explain that savoring is different than mindfulness in the sense that it applies exclusively to pleasant experiences. Are you the type that always has to be reminded to stop and smell the roses?

Not to worry.

They explain that savoring can be improved with practice, which is time well spent because they explain savoring is linked to a variety of indicators of well-being including self esteem, life satisfaction, positive affect, and less guilt and depression.

Collecting data from 122 undergraduate students who were in monogamous dating relationships, Lenger and Gordon found that savoring was indeed linked with relationship satisfaction. Regarding which facets of savoring predicted relational satisfaction most strongly, although total savoring as well as its three component parts all predicted relationship satisfaction, anticipation was uniquely predictive, well above the other two components.

What does that mean as a practical matter?

As the authors explain, intentionally experiencing and enjoying the positive emotions associated with looking forward to an event is the sub-component of savoring which is most strongly linked to relationship satisfaction.

Companionship and Compromise

A discussion of sharing and savoring necessarily includes the component of selection. Whether deciding on a movie or a meal, happy couples are likely to consider both personal and partner preference.

But in what order? Research reveals the selfless answer.

Ximena Garcia-Rada et al. in, "Consuming Together (Versus Separately) Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" (2019) found that romantic couples prioritize shared preferences over individual preferences when choosing an item to share with a partner.

They found that when consuming the same item, partners will sacrifice their preference to attain alignment with a partner when consuming together, versus separately. They explain that joint consumption creates a shift in motivation from utilitarian (eating to satisfy hunger) to hedonic (creating an pleasant evening).

Accordingly, joint consumption makes consumers consider a partner´s affective reactions to specific items, as well as the larger experience, which prompts selections that are less preferable out of a desire to please their partner.

When Selection Involves Sacrifice

As a practical matter, successful relationships often involve similar behavioral routines, particularly when it comes to compromise. If one partner loves action movies and the other prefers love stories, with today´s vast movie selection available both on and offline, they stand a good chance of finding a compromise. If one partner prefers Westerns, however, while the other is a "Star Wars" fanatic, meeting in the middle might be more problematic.

Accordingly, Ximena Garcia-Rada et al. emphasize the importance of sacrifice.

Many couples share one of the secrets of their success is to look at the big picture when it comes to single decisions. Parents do this with their kids all of the time — some would say for eighteen years. Prioritizing the interests and goals of loved ones fosters closeness, bonding, and ideally — reciprocity.

Yet not everything a couple does is done together. What about personal decision-making regarding personal matters? Obviously, partners make many daily decisions on their own time to satisfy their own needs. Everything from choosing where to go for lunch, what book to read during a bit of down time, or what exercises to do at the gym would fall into this category.

Although we understand prioritizing autonomy when buying personal items, what about when buying a car? Ximena Garcia-Rada et al. point out that for couples, some personal decisions impact both parties. They note that purchasing vehicles, appliances, or furnishings for the home involve shared consumption. Accordingly, many such decisions involve joint decision-making.

Better Together

Proactive consideration of partner preference promotes healthy relationships. From fast food to home finance, from movies to moving, couples making decisions as a team are on the road to relational success. 

This article was first published in Psychology Today.

Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 4,000 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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Intentionally experiencing and enjoying the positive emotions associated with looking forward to an event is the sub-component of savoring which is most strongly linked to relationship satisfaction.
compromise, behavioral, routines, emotions
Tuesday, 24 September 2019 05:20 PM
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