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The Happiness Connection  

Growing together not apart

Growing in your marriage

Knowing others is intelligence.

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Mastering others is strength.

Mastering yourself is true power.

Lao Tzu

Research supports the many benefits of continued personal development. Among them is increased resilience and improved self-confidence. Meeting new people, having novel experiences, or learning different skills, are all ways to encourage personal growth.

I’m passionate about this topic, both for myself and for others. To change the world, your marriage or your business, you have to start with yourself.

Personal development is valuable, but what happens when one half of a couple is on a growth path that doesn’t involve the other one? Does having personal development experiences that aren’t shared affect the quality of your connection?

A recent study out of Durham University in the U.K. looked at the link between personal development and passion within an intimate relationship.

The British team conducted three different studies. Two focused on daily diary entries where participants were asked to write about elements like novelty, excitement, increased perspective, and feelings of competence. These could be experienced individually or with a partner. They were also asked to record in each entry how passionate they felt about their relationship.

The results showed that when one person experienced a sensation of personal growth without their partner, it heightened the passion they felt for their relationship.

This supports previous research suggesting long-term couples can maintain excitement in their relationship by sharing new and novel experiences. Learning to dance, taking up a new hobby, or traveling together can all boost relationship passion.

The third study looked at couples who recently relocated to a new city as part of a career move for one of the partners.

The thinking behind this was that half the couple would be a situation that encouraged personal growth that didn’t involve their partner. They’d meet new people and have different experiences within their fresh work environment.

It seems that when personal growth happens regularly for one partner and doesn’t involve the other one, the result is a lessening of relationship passion. Rather than growing together, they start to grow apart.

Personal growth has many psychological benefits for individuals, so don’t think you should stop having growth experiences away from your partner. Awareness of this tendency is key. The takeaway is to make sure you spend enough time growing together to balance out individual growth experiences.

Growing as a couple doesn’t mean being in the same room watching television. It comes from meeting people outside your regular connections, learning new skills, and having novel experiences together.

If you want more relationship passion in your world, maybe it’s time to reinstate that weekly date night.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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