Intimate and romantic relationships bring happiness and positive emotions to our lives for some time but then are susceptible to hedonic adaptation.
What are the best ways to combat hedonic adaptation in marriage/partnerships?
One exercise for countering hedonic adaptation in relationships is called mental subtraction and involves having each person imagine how their lives would be different had they never met their respective partner.
Here’s an example:
If I had never met my husband, I may have never discovered my passion for opera. Though I had been to several operas before I met him, I never loved it. One day over a decade ago, my husband came home from work (we were newly married and living in Seattle) and he announced he had purchased a season pass to the @seattleopera. We ended up going to every show for the next ten years before our daughter was born. We also traveled to the best opera houses in the US and even took two classes together at UW on opera. We have so many joyful stories, memories, and have experienced so many emotions throughout the journey.
According to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at UC Riverside, appreciation, gratitude, and variety are the other essential spices to a lasting relationship. For those of you in long distance relationships this is a major upside!
Now it’s your turn! How would your life be different if you had not met your partner/spouse/significant other?