Robbie and I are gearing up for the Alpha Marriage Course, which starts this Sunday night at our church. It’s a terrific class and you’d think that, having taught it five times already, my beloved and I would be coasting, but every time we go over the material, we learn something new.
One time, for instance, “we” learned that it’s not a good idea to interrupt your spouse when he is talking (even if you are pretty sure that what you have to say is way more interesting).
During another session, “we” discovered that cleaning out the garage is not, in fact, everyone’s primary love language. Some people, it turns out, would rather have sex.
And then there was the time that we got to grade each other on questions like, My partner is good at meeting my emotional needs, and “we” got a zero. (Honestly, though, that was not a fair question. I mean, I didn’t even know Robbie had emotional needs.)
(But now I do.)
So here we are, getting ready to go at it again. And this time I have a secret weapon: I’ve been following Brad Wilcox on Twitter. Wilcox is the brainiac behind the National Marriage Project, and his research offers everything from tips on improving your relationship to indicators that a marriage will last (inviting a lot of friends and relatives to your wedding bodes well; “sliding” into cohabitation before marriage does not).
Sometimes, the findings are surprising. Like, you might expect things like “commitment” and “sexual intimacy” to show up as factors linked to a happy marriage. But the third of the Big Three? Generosity.
“In marriage we are expected to do our fair share when it comes to housework, child care and being faithful,” Wilcox explains, in a New York Times Magazine article, “but generosity is going above and beyond the ordinary expectations with small acts of service and making an extra effort to be affectionate.” And that, he says, promotes a “virtuous cycle” that leads to happier marriages.
Wilcox & Co. even have a quiz you can take to determine your generosity rating. I’d take the quiz, but Robbie’s the one who makes the coffee around here, and I don’t want to go into Sunday’s class with another big “L” on my stat sheet.
But I am going to try to be more generous. Like, when Robbie brings me my coffee in the morning, I will tell him I love him. Even if it’s not hot enough, because I will know to overlook that.
See? Who needs a marriage course?
Don’t answer that.
(But do check out The Marriage Course. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for one year or 50, you’ll find it well worth your time. Even if you already know that your man has emotional needs.)