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A Me Marriage Is a Good Marriage

If your spouse helps you grow as a person, you probably have a great marriage.

New research confirms that the key to having an awesome marriage is helping each other "expand" as people. I couldn't agree more. One thing I love about being married: Holly is always turning me on to new ideas, great articles, interesting books, cool music, etc. Some of our nights together are like a nerdy cultural studies class. We will sit and track a complete album and then dissect it together. It might not sound sexy to everyone, but to us it is. (We are both serious music snobs.) I love that we are partners in learning. It's a huge relief to me, because somewhere, in the back of my mind, I was afraid that marriage would mean the end of growth -- the end of adventure. But Holly and I are always pushing each other to expand and create a more adventurous life.

And judging by this quote from a New York Times article, we’re on the right track: "Dr. [Arthur] Aron [a psychology professor who directs the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook] and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, have studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, a process called ‘self-expansion.’ Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship." Cool, right?

Check this part out: "But self-expansion isn’t just about exotic experiences. Individuals experience personal growth through their partners in big and small ways. It happens when they introduce new friends, or casually talk about a new restaurant or a fascinating story in the news." I dig that detail.

For every one time Holly and I go spelunking in Mexico, there are a couple hundred times when Holly and I do stuff like introduce each other to new people or forward each other interesting articles. Actually, this was one of those articles that had me nodding all the way through and left me feeling like our marriage is crazy solid. It also reminded me why many of my prior relationships tanked.

How would you rate the self-expansion in your relationship? Inspired at all to work on it?

-- Jack

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