If you’re planning to tie the knot, prepare to undergo a personality change at the same time.
According to recent research, getting married makes you a more forgiving person and increases your ability to exert self-control.
The researchers, from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, reasoned that these two qualities are central to a happy partnership: self-control limits the amount you snap at your partner, while forgiveness helps you to move on when you inevitably fall out from time to time.
The team recruited almost 200 newlyweds for their study and found that both self-control and forgiveness increased among couples after four years of marriage.
For the study, the newlyweds were presented with a series of statements on forgiveness and self-control within three months of their wedding.
Statements included phrases such as “when my partner wrongs me, my approach is just to forgive and forget” and “I am good at resisting temptation”.
The participants were asked to record the extent to which they agreed with the statements. Four years later, the researchers presented the married couples with the same sentences and repeated the test.
“In the current research, we aimed to demonstrate that marriage may serve as a training ground for self-control and forgiveness,” the study says.
“Current findings showed that self-control and forgiveness indeed increased over the first four years of marriage. The beginning stage of marriage may thus provide the ideal context for self-control and forgiveness to grow.”
To explain the change in behaviour, the researchers pointed to previous research that suggested forgiveness grows over time in a relationship as our commitment goes from strength to strength.
“When partners start valuing their relationship to a greater extent, increase their attachment to their partner, and adopt a long-term perspective to the relationship, they will become more motivated and likely to forgive,” they said.
“Forgiving tendencies may also increase because partners likely affirm each other’s forgiving behaviour, in direct and indirect ways. Forgiveness is conducive to a better relationship climate, with lower levels of aggression and a decreased risk of future transgression.”
The study is published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.