Want to be happier in your marriage? Do something nice for your spouse.

Feeling frustrated with your spouse? Do something extra for them. Say something nice, plan a surprise date night, give a gift ‘just because’. It can be something quite small or large – up to you.

While this may seem counterintuitive, studies have shown that giving and doing for others brings physical and mental benefits to the giver: lower stress levels, increased sense of self, lower blood pressure, greater happiness. When people do for others rather than only seeking to get from others, they are happier in the relationship.

There is evidence that, during giving behaviors, humans secrete “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical). These all set a more relaxed and happy mood. And moods are contagious.

You know what ought to work for you and your spouse.

(Of course, this is talking about a healthy relationship going through a short term slump, not abusive.)

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