When your spouse tells you some good news, how do you respond? Shelly Gable, an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA who studies what makes marriages great, discovered that the way you react matters a lot. When a husband or wife tells some good news to their spouse, the spouse's reaction can raise the husband's or wife's mood, or lower it.
Gable divided the possible responses into four categories. For example, if your spouse told you s/he just got a promotion at work, you might respond in one of these four ways:
Enthusiastically: "That's great, Honey! You're on your way!"
Negatively or critically: "Are they going to make you work longer hours?"
Positive, but subdued: "That's nice."
Uninterested: "Did you see they finally opened the new Macy's on 8th Street?"
When you typically respond enthusiastically, as opposed to any of the other ways, studies show it makes a big difference in how satisfied your spouse is in your marriage, how committed s/he is, and how in love s/he is with you.
And, of course, if your spouse is more satisfied with your marriage, is more committed to you, and more in love with you, that'll really raise your mood, and that's why I'm talking to you about it.
The moral to this story is clear: If your typical response is not enthusiasm, a simple way to make your relationship better is to pay attention to those moments, and heighten your response to them.
Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It.