The existence of love and its nature is something that has troubled philosophers for centuries, but a pair of scientists believe they have a set of questions that yield "clear empirical evidence" of it, or at least whether your relationship will end in divorce.
'How happy are you in your marriage relative to how happy you would be if you weren't in the marriage?' and 'How do you think your spouse answered that question?'
University of Virginia economists Leora Friedberg and Steven Stern asked this to 4,242 couples twice, six years apart, and analysing the data recently found that those who thought they would be no worse off single were more likely to now be broken up.
Only 40.9 percent of participants could accurately identify how their partner felt about their relationship, which is at the root of many relationship problems.
A history of love
A history of love
1/13 Plato's Symposium
One of the Plato’s most famous works, this dialogue between Greek philosophers that takes place over dinner, explores the very nature of love, what it means to be in love, and has shaped the modern definition of platonic love.
2/13 Romeo and Juliet
Shakepeare's tale of two young star-crossed lovers has stood the test of time and continues to be adapted for film, stage and even opera.
3/13 Troilus and Criseyde
Considered one of Chaucer’s finest works the poem written in Middle-English brought about the term ‘all good things come to an end’ as Criseyde’s lover dies a tragic death in the Siege of Troy.
4/13 Pride and Prejudice
Having sold over 20 million copies, Jane Austen’s novel based on the themes of manners, upbringing, morality and marriage continues to make women worldwide swoon at the thought of finding their very own Mr. Darcy.
5/13 Sigmund Freud
Freud thought that not only a couple’s love for one another, but the parent’s love for the child and the child’s for the parent were basically of the same kind.
6/13 Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte’s eerie tale of jealousy and vengefulness still haunts readers today and even inspired Kate Bush’s 1978 hit.
7/13 Orpheus & Eurydice
Perhaps the ultimate tragic love story, this Greek myth explores love at first sight and Orpheus’s doomed journey to the Underworld to be reunited with his wife.
8/13 Song of Songs in the Bible
A celebration of sexual love, The Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon is widely considered one of the most beautiful expressions of love and harmony.
9/13 The Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
A story of love so epic that it led to the creation of one of the Wonders of the World, The Taj Mahal, this is a grief stricken Mughal Emperor’s exquisite manifestation of love for his favourite wife who died in childbirth.
10/13 Madame Bovary, Flaubert
Flaubert’s 19th century realist novel follows narcissist Emma Bovary and her descent into adultery and despair as the boredom of bourgeois life consumes her.
11/13 Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s exploration of love as a kind of fate which can be a blessing but also a curse that leads to destruction is deeply embedded in modern culture.
12/13 Doctor Zhivago
Set during a war, the classic love triangle of a man who has fallen for two women is a tale of broken hearts and twists of fate.
13/13 Layla and Majnun
Persian poet, Nizami Ganjavi, narrates a story of young love which can only be united in death as the legendary lovers are buried side by side, to be reunited in the afterlife.
According to bargaining theory, misjudging your spouse's emotions can lead you to bargain 'too hard' and unwittingly precipitate a split.
"If I believe my wife is really happy in the marriage," Professor Stern explained as an example. "I might push her to do more chores or contribute a larger portion of the family income.
"If, unbeknownst to me, she's actually just lukewarm about the marriage, or she's got a really good-looking guy who is interested in her, she may decide those demands are the last straw, and decide a divorce would be a better option for her.
"In this scenario, pushing a bargain too hard, based on misperception of a partner's happiness, will result in a divorce that wouldn't otherwise have occurred."
The professors stressed the importance of picking your battles.
"This data shows that people aren't being as tough negotiators as they could be, and then we realised that we needed to include caring in the model for it to make sense," said professor Friedberg.
"The idea of love here is that you get some happiness from your spouse simply being happy.
"For instance, I might agree to do more house chores, which reduces my personal happiness somewhat, but I get some offsetting happiness simply knowing that my partner benefits."
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