Pick your partner well. A recent study published by Carnegie Mellon University reveals that one of the secrets to success is the person you marry.
Psychologists posed the question—What makes people more likely to give themselves the chance to succeed?—and then welcomed 163 married couples into their lab. Researchers gave the couples a choice: They could either solve a simple puzzle or go beyond by taking the opportunity to compete for a prize. The couples’ interactions were then recorded as the spouses decided whether they should solve the puzzle or go for the challenge.
The findings were fascinating. Researchers discovered that the participants who had encouraging partners were significantly more likely to compete for the prize. The spouses who discouraged each other or conveyed any type of doubt instead went for the easier option: the puzzle.
Then, six months later, researchers came across another finding. The couples who went for the challenges, overall, were rewarded with a variety of factors fueling success. Benefits of a supportive spouse included heightened personal growth, more happiness, psychological well-being, and generally, a better relationship overall.
“We found support for the idea that the choices people make at these specific decision points… matter a lot for their long-term well-being,” the lead author of the study, professor of psychology Brooke Feeney, said in Carnegie Mellon’s release. “Significant others can help you thrive through embracing life opportunities. Or they can hinder your ability to thrive by making it less likely that you’ll pursue opportunities for growth.”
So what were some tangible suggestions for how to achieve this? Researchers learned that the most supportive spouses actively expressed enthusiasm, reassured their loved ones, and communicated optimistically about how challenges could help fuel their partner’s growth.
In essence, support and success go hand in hand.