Countless articles for a successful marriage exist, spouting tips like “work as a team,” “bond with each other,” “play games together.” The common theme: Simply spend more time together and invest in each other.
But here’s one tip that goes against the grain: act single.
According to The New York Times, a new study suggests that acting like a single person and cultivating the skills of “successful singlehood” can actually make for a more satisfying marriage.
In a study authored by Ohio State University sociologist Kristi Williams and professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Texas Debra Umberson, the problems experienced by divorced and widowed people may result from having relied too much on their spouse. In doing so, they’ve failed to maintain social networks and self-reliance.
The key to maintaining your self-reliance is something experts call social integration, and it really just means socializing more and with people other than your spouse. Spend time with family and friends. Participate in clubs, go to church, take part in a political organization or union — partake in some of your old single behaviors.
Maintaining your social network and widening your net of friends will prove beneficial to your marriage in so many ways.
“Happily married wives who experience conflicts in their marriage generally feel closer to their husbands when they can discuss and reframe the issues with a good friend,” author Stephanie Coontz writes in the New York Times piece.
“‘You are my everything’ is not the best recipe for a happy marriage,” UCLA social psychologist Benjamin Karney tells Coontz. “Even the happiest couples have something to gain by nurturing relationships with people outside their marriage.”
If you’re looking to rekindle your relationship or just shake things up a bit, consider going on a double date this Valentine’s Day. In an experiment for a paper published on Wiley Online Library, couples who went on a double date reported feeling even more romantic passion toward each other versus those who took part in a one-on-one date.
Dinner for four, please.