As someone who specializes in marital communication and interactions, I often talk to people about how important voice tone is in terms of a marriage’s overall tone. But I recently realized that there’s another way to improve the tone of a marriage. And that’s through music.
I came to this realization while out for supper with a couple friends, during what turned out to be karaoke night at the restaurant. A self-described “recently dumped” woman took to the karaoke machine like a duck to water and belted out the song I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor). By the end of the performance, she was smiling ear-to-ear and had the place cheering for her.
The change on her face and even in the restaurant was palpable, and it’s no mystery why. Music can definitely affect our mood. So if you’re feeling a little down—or perhaps a little irritated by or angry with your spouse—try listening to a few pick-me-up tunes. It can change your mood and give you the boost of positive emotion, optimism or perspective you need to feel better, and perhaps even avoid an unnecessary argument with your spouse.
Similarly, if your spouse comes home from work in a foul mood, try sweetening it by playing one or two of their favorite songs. This might be a better approach than saying, “Wow, you’re grumpy!” or demanding that they explain their bad mood. Sometimes it isn’t worth talking about. Sometimes the reason is small and insignificant, and it’s better to just let the mood pass and move on with life.
So can music change the tone of a marriage? That depends on the marriage and what issues a couple is facing. It won’t do much to improve the tone of a seriously miserable marriage, but it might hit just the right note to make a good marriage even better.
A well-timed, well-chosen song can certainly spare you from a few pointless arguments and nasty interactions. It can prevent you from hurting each other’s feelings for no real reason, or having a long talk when it just isn’t necessary. Relationship math is elementary. To have a successful marriage, you need more good days than bad days, more positive interactions than negative ones, and more happy songs than sad ones.
So by all means, if you feel a bad mood coming on, or you see your spouse is in one, cue the music and set a happier tone. It won’t work all the time and it isn’t always the best way to avoid conflict, but it works enough of the time that it’s one more song to have in your marriage playbook.