Want to improve your marriage? Get a dog! According to psychologist and couples’ counselor Dr. Ian Kerner, numerous studies show that having a dog in the house can increase closeness and intimacy.
- For example: Having a dog around encourages touching and hugging. Studies show that petting a dog increases production of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which also boosts trust and feelings of connection between couples. That’ll make you and your spouse more touchy-feely.
- A dog in the house also boosts happiness. A recent study in Japan found that dogs can tell whether a person is smiling or not. Since dogs love smiles and laughter, they tend to get playful to make sure it happens. That helps humans, because studies show that the more people smile, the happier they feel. In fact, relationship therapist John Gottman points out that the couples in successful marriages have a lot more positive moments than negative ones, and a dog can assist with that.
- Dogs also make their owners more likely to exercise. Studies show that people who walk dogs regularly are more active across the board than those who don’t have dogs. Numerous studies show that exercise increases health and happiness, and reduces stress. All of those things improve your relationships.
- The final reason a dog can improve your marriage: Novelty. Humans seek “newness,” which increases production of the “feel good” chemical dopamine. Walking your dog will help you meet new people and new dogs. It’ll also make you more likely to stop and see things you might never see flying by in your car. The more feel-good chemicals in your system, the more likely you are to like the people around you, including your spouse.