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  • Writer's pictureAbby Rosmarin


A recent NYT Magazine Cover article, Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? discusses the work of Adam Grant, whose work focuses on reciprocity and its power to motivate. According to Grant, “

Reading it sparked me to think about generosity and how it could affect marriage.

Lucky for me, empirical research has already been on the topic. It turns out, that research confirms that those who embrace the ethic of generosity in a marriage (both in terms of valuing each other first and showing it abundantly) enjoy markedly higher levels of marital quality and stability than those who do not. Generosity ranked just behind sexual intimacy and commitment as a predictor of a happy marriage. The State of Our Unions:

Marriage in America 2011, The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

University of Virginia’s W. Bradford Wilcox, who led the research, explained in marriage we are expected to do our fair share when it comes to housework, child care and being faithful, but generosity is going above and beyond the ordinary expectations with small acts of service and making an extra effort to be affectionate,

Generosity was considered to be the virtue of giving good things to [one’s spouse] freely and abundantly. In a marriage it encompasses small acts of service, the expression of affection, demonstrations of respect, and a willingness to forgive the other for mistakes and shortcomings.

Take note: a happy marriage was more likely if the partners had five positive interactions for every negative one.

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