I know it drives my husband crazy when I open a carton of Silk and accidentally leave that little pull tab seal on the counter. But after years of anguish and arguments, we don’t fight about my very specific kitchen blind spot anymore. Has being married to me made my husband more forgiving? New research says yes: Marriage makes couples more forgiving and gives us better self-control.
Psychologists at Tilburg University in the Netherlands studied 199 newlywed couples throughout four years. During that time, the researchers had the individuals rate their own levels of forgiveness and self-control at regular intervals.
During the four years, the newlyweds experienced a moderate increase in their levels of forgiveness, according to the study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Self-control levels also went up for the newly married participants. In fact, they experienced self-control gains equal to people who complete psychological programs designed specifically to help people have better self-control.
The benefits of self-control when living in close proximity to others are obvious, but it turns out they extend beyond the relationship.
The study’s authors report achieving a high level of self-control doesn’t just help a person in their marriage, but in almost all parts of life. As the study’s authors wrote in their report, “Being forgiving toward one's spouse not only benefits the relationship but also contributes to individual health and well-being.”
According to the team led by Dr. Tila Pronk, the increases in self-control and forgiveness are not are not correlated—so you could end up with a spouse who is more forgiving than they were, but unimproved levels of impulsivity. Either way, the research shows there are definite perks of matrimony. (In addition to being generally wealthier and healthier!)
As for the ongoings in my household, I know my husband and I are both more forgiving and have better self-control after five years of marriage. He even tells me he’s accepted that part of being married to me is being OK with the occasional plastic ring from the milk carton being left on the counter. If that’s not love I don’t know what is. ❤️