One Crucial Ingredient for a Happier Marriage

By Scott And Bethany Palmer for

Apparently couples spell happiness r-e-v-i-e-w. An interesting study led by Eli Finkel, head of the social psychology department at Northwestern University, shows that couples who review their relationship three times a year enjoy happier marriages.

For two years, 120 couples participated in this study. Half of the couples reviewed or reappraised their relationships in writing three times each year, every four months, for a mere 21-minute annual total. The others did business as usual.

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Finkel found that the three written reports prevented couples from declining happiness and slumping marital satisfaction. “I don’t want it to sound like magic but you can get pretty impressive results with minimal intervention,” said Mr. Finkel, lead author of the study.

Working with couples around the country, we have found similar, positive results with couples who identify their Money Personalities™ and review money matters in a monthly Money Huddle.™ A couple’s Money Huddle is an intentional time to reconnect, encourage trust, work together and dream about the future. It is not a time to organize receipts or balance the books. The monthly Money Huddle is an opportunity to r-e-v-i-e-w the emotional component of your relationship.

Do you feel heard when it comes to money issues in your relationship? Are your money needs being met? What are your dreams as a couple for the future and how can you start to make them happen? Discuss, r-e-v-i-e-w and soak up the happiness. When disagreements about money arise during the day, table them until your Money Huddle when you are both more apt to listen and compromise.

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Finkel’s study participants did not avoid fighting for those two years — remember he said it wasn’t a miracle — but the study found that “the couples who did the writing exercise three times a year recovered more quickly from arguments.” Apparently connecting between fights, paves the way for a speedy recovery when we do fight. Professor Finkel goes on to say, “Having a high-quality marriage is one of the strongest predictors of happiness and health.”

Differing Money Personalities have the potential for conflict in a relationship, but they can also create balance and health. This study reminds us that the time commitment does not have to be tremendous to see positive results in our relationships. We can develop new patterns of communication and concise times of review in our relationships and spell h-a-p-p-i-n-e-s-s.

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Scott & Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple® Identify your Money Personalities in less than 15 fifteen minutes, for free!

Read more about the Money Huddle, learn the Money Dump, about Opposite Dynamics, Financial Infidelity and all Five Money Personalities in our new book, The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language.

This article originally appeared on Why Your Relationship Needs A Report Card.


Diane K.
Diane K4 years ago

We talked about our economic philosophies before we got married and found that we were much on the same page. We are not afraid to talk about changes we need to make along our path together. After nearly 37 years, it's still working.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Morgan Feathers
Morgan F4 years ago


Cynthia H.
Cynthia H4 years ago

Interesting that two weeks ago my hubby & I were not getting along. We are both stubborn and cannot really "discuss" anything without the other tuning out or getting mad & interrupting. I wrote him a 2 page letter explaining my feelings & thoughts on a sore subject. Next day, I wrote another 2 page letter on a related sore subject. (Left both on his work desk so he'd see it when I was still away & he could read without me being there.) I SWEAR that the next day we were SOOOOO much better. I accepted my responsibility for things and explained why I felt upset by some of his actions (or nonactions.) We have not had a cross word since & his attitude with me is so much more positive since. I am ecstatic!

Thomas W.
Thomas W4 years ago


Kelly Lowry
Kelly Lowry4 years ago

good very good

Kazimierz Kostanski
Past Member 4 years ago


Patricia Geraldes

Thanks for sharing.

Alison A.
Alison A4 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Linda Stuckey
Linda Stuckey4 years ago

Maybe the couples who were willing to do the writing were simply more motivated to work on their relationships. They might have had happier marriages anyway just because of that attitude. Maybe writing reports had nothing to do with it.