The New York Times' Tara Parker Pope recently did some research on the factors to a happy marriage.
According to The New York Times, "being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single — particularly during the most stressful periods, like midlife crises."
Tara Parker Pope recently examined research on the "ambivalent marriage", one that is "not always terrible, but not always great", which found that such a partnership can take a toll on health.
Peter Pearson, a couples therapist and cofounder of theCouples Institute in Menlo Park, California, shared some insight, and chemistry was his first answer.
"Chemistry is not everything," he said, "but if the chemistry is not there, that's a tough thing to overcome. If the chemistry is more there for one person than the other, that's tough to overcome. It's hard to build passion if it's low at the beginning. If I could find a way to build passion where passion was low, I'd be richer than Bill Gates."
Social chemistry plays a crucial role, the way you feel when you're with the other person. In his experience, when people have affairs, it's more than simple lust, it's also about the way they feel when they're around the other person.
That sense of "how I feel" can be investigated further by looking at the work of Canadian psychologist Eric Berne. Back in the 1950s and '60s, Berne developed "transactional analysis," a model that tried to provide an account of how two people in a relationship interact, or transact.
His popular books about the model became best sellers, namely "The Games People Play." Drawing somewhat on Sigmund Freud, his theory argued that every person has three "ego states":
The parent: What you've been taught
The child: What you have felt
The adult: What you have learned
When two people are really compatible, they connect along each tier. Pearson gave us a few questions for figuring out compatibility at each level:
The parent: Do you have similar values and beliefs about the world?
The child: Do you have fun together? Can you be spontaneous? Do you think your partner's hot? Do you like to travel together?
The adult: Does each person think the other is bright? Are you good at solving problems together?
While having symmetry across all three is ideal, Pearson said that people often "get together to balance each other." One person might identify as fun-loving and adventurous, while the other takes on the role of being nurturing and responsible.
But despite all these theoretical models, Pearson said that the clues about what predicts true compatibility are more of a felt sense than something you reason out.
He provided a litmus test:
"If you're living together and your partner is away for a couple days and you see a favorite scarf, a pair of shoes, or another article of clothing that's important to them, how do you feel?" Pearson asked. "Do you feel annoyed that you have to pick up the clutter, or does it bring up happy memories?"
The answer can tell you a lot about how your parent, child, and adult are getting along with theirs.