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Study asks: What’s your biggest regret?

Updated: March 23, 2012 8:06AM

W hat is your biggest regret? A new study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University reveals that our biggest regrets have nothing to do with work or career accomplishments. According to the study, people are most likely to regret decisions related to their personal relationships, such as cheating on a spouse or letting “the one” get away.

The study findings are interesting because it shows us that satisfaction often has nothing to do with climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, life’s greatest happiness stems from strong personal relationships and a rewarding love life. Humans are social creatures by nature, so it is no surprise that we rely on this personal connection. However, in today’s world of texts and Facebook chat, some of that rewarding intimacy can get lost in our hectic technological pace.

Here are some ways you can strengthen your relationship and keep romantic regrets at bay:

Make the most out of your workday. Between work, kids, and errands, it can be hard to find a moment alone with your partner. Yet if this study teaches us anything it is that while you probably won’t be likely to regret leaving work at a reasonable hour, you will regret skipping date night or forgetting your partner’s birthday. It’s important to have career goals and to work hard, but your job can’t give you the solace, pleasure and intimacy that your partner can.

Everyone should have a quitting time, and if you make the most of your work day (i.e. stay off Facebook, skip the long lunch, and stay focused), you won’t have to stay at the office until the wee hours. Always ask yourself: If I die tomorrow, what would I have rather done with my last day? Stayed at the office and ditched date night, or enjoyed a beautiful meal with my partner?

Turn off your phone. When you are logged into your laptop or texting on your smartphone, you aren’t cuddling with your spouse or looking in his eyes. When you are sorting through your missed calls and checking out photos on Facebook, you aren’t laughing with your partner and swapping stories with your day. Technology can be a fun and convenient part of your life, but it’s important to practice moderation. Shut off the phone after 6 p.m. or make it a rule that phones are not allowed at the dinner table.

Don’t miss the little things. You can find more joy and pleasure in your relationship simply by remembering the little things and honoring your connection with your partner. Create special little traditions that you both enjoy, whether it is ordering Chinese on a Friday night and watching old movies, or reading the paper in bed on Sunday morning. These little things end up being the moments that you treasure and remember for the rest of your life, so keep up your traditions and put your relationship first.

Only say “yes”’ when you mean it. Are you overwhelmed with extracurricular activities like baking for the PTA or organizing your neighborhood block party? It’s good to help others, but it shouldn’t be at your own expense (or at the expense of your marriage). Remember, you can’t be a good friend or lover if you are stressed and overworked, and even Wonder Woman couldn’t do a million things at once. Take things off your plate that are only there out of guilt and spend time on your relationship and things that matter to you. Good self-care requires a little bit of selfishness, and so does a happy marriage, so get off the ‘yes’ track and get your life back.

Lastly, and most importantly, have more sex. Start tonight — work can wait!

Dr. Berman is director of, and her television shows “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” and “The Dr. Laura Berman Show” are featured on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

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