Finally, a study that makes perfect sense. According to a study published in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science, the happiest marriages are the ones that are the most, well, delusional.
As reported today in the Los Angeles Times, the study shows that of 222 newlywed couples who were followed for three years, those who had an abnormally high level of “rose colored” glasses about each other were the only pairs who didn’t show a decline
in their level of marriage happiness.
“People who were the most idealistic about their partner in the beginning showed no decline at all in satisfaction over the first three years of marriage,” said study lead author Sandra Murray, psychology professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Is there anyone who is surprised by this?
Whenever I have asked a woman who has been with her husband for decades what their secret is, I usually get an answer along the lines of, “I got myself a great man.” Maybe she does, but why not an answer along the lines of, “We communicate well,” or “We have the same values,” or “The sex is hot!” Instead, it’s always some variation of “He’s great.” Even when he’s not.
For example, there was the couple that was good friends with my grandmother. They’d come over for dinner once and awhile and I was always struck by their lovey-dovey demonstrativeness, despite their decades-long marriage. It turns out that the man had once had an affair with another woman and left the union for two years. The wife merely waited for him to come back and, when he did, she promptly forgave him and picked up where they left off. When I asked my grandmother why she’d forgive him so quickly, my grandmother answered, “She’s always thought he was it.” Ah, sweet delusion.
Then there’s my friend. She’s been married for over a decade and is very happy. Last year, I went to a party with her and her husband and watched as he drank gallons of hooch and noisily flirted with every female in the near and far vicinity. “Isn’t it nice my husband is so social?” my friend asked, starry-eyed. Um, indeed.
I think of supermodel Janice Dickinson’s memoir No Lifeguard On Duty. Dickinson’s father, as she writes, was a horror show: An abusive jerk who sexually preyed on his three daughters. He also had a habit of cutting off people in traffic, then getting
out of the car to confront them with explosively demented diatribes. Dickinson recalls that her mother would look out the window as he terrified some innocent elderly couple and ask, dreamily, “Isn’t he funny?” They never divorced.
So I guess being delusional is the key to a long, happy marriage. If so, forgive me if I say I’d rather have a short, miserable one.
Kiri Blakeley, Forbes