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The key to a happy, lasting marriage: self-expansion

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Apparently, the key to a happy marriage is self-expansion.

And no...we're not talking the exploding waistband kind of self-expansion.

There is no "me" in marriage...but there should be

Just because a couple has been together for 40+ years doesn't necessarily mean that it's been 40 years of marital bliss (have you seen the movie "War of the Roses?)There are many reasons why otherwise miserable couples choose to stay together: the kids, religion, financial reasons etc. (However, these reasons apparently do not exist for the Hollywood crowd.)

Professors at various universities who have researched the subject have discovered that individual fulfillment and satisfaction play a vital part of a marriage not only lasting through the years, but also creating an environment in which husband and wife actually continue to enjoy each other's company.

Dr. Lewandowski, a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey has studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate different experiences and knowledge - a process he has called "self-expansion." Dr. Lewandowski's research suggests that the more self-expansion a person experiences from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.

Explains Lewandowski, "If you're seeking self-growth and obtain if from your partner, then that puts your partner in a pretty important position. And being able to help your partner's self-expansion would be pretty pleasing to yourself."

The self-expansion quiz

In order to measure an individual's amount of "self-expansion," Dr. Lewandowski developed a series of questions for couples to answer. A sample of some of the types of questions asked are: How much has knowing your partner made you a better person? How much has being with your partner resulted in your learning new things?

Click here to take the full self-expansion quiz.

And, "new experiences" don't have to be exotic or expensive either - being introduced to new friends, trying new restaurants or a sport you hadn't considered before all qualify.

Adds Dr. Lewandowski, "People have a fundamental motivation to improve the self and add to who they are as a person. If your partner is helping you become a better person, you become happier and more satisfied in the relationship.

Do tell: Have you experienced "self-expansion" in your current relationship?

Source: The New York Times/Tara Parker-Pope

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