There is a real correlation between people’s voices and the quality of their relationship. (Getty Images)
Want to know if your relationship is destined for happily ever after? Check your tone.
That’s the message from new research published in the journal Proceedings of Interspeech that found the tone of voice couples use to talk to each other can predict whether their relationship will last.
For the study, researchers from the University of Southern California and University of Utah recorded conversations during marriage therapy sessions for more than 100 couple over two years, and then tracked their marital status for five years. They also developed a computer algorithm that broke the recordings into acoustic features like pitch and intensity, as well as how often a person’s voice warbled.
What they discovered:
There was a correlation between people’s voices and the quality of their relationship.
Researchers could accurately predict whether couples would be together after five years nearly 80 percent of the time.
The algorithm did a better job than relationship experts of predicting whether couples with serious issues would still be together in five years.
Is your tone of voice that important? Experts say yes.
“It’s like the old adage: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” Erika Martinez, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in Miami, tells Yahoo Health.
Our tone can convey feelings, including negative ones like contempt, criticism, and defensiveness, which reveal important information about our emotional state. “Over long periods of time, that can take a toll on the relationship,” she says.
Your tone may be even more important than what you say. “Research shows that in conversation, the non-verbal aspects are given higher value than the verbal,” psychologist Paul Coleman, PsyD, author of “Finding Peace When Your Heart Is In Pieces,” tells Yahoo Health.
It can also influence your emotions and either ignite or diffuse the intensity of a situation. “Studies have shown that when we are angry and speak loudly, we get angrier,” Coleman says. “If we speak at a volume that is slightly less than normal conversational volume, we become less angry.”
Experts say the latest research emphasizes how important it is to watch how you speak when you’re arguing with your partner. “If you’re upset, try to speak in a conversational tone,” advises Coleman. It may go farther than you think.