We’ve recently been introduced to Dr. John Gottman. If you’re not familiar with him or his work, he has spent the last four decades studying couples to better understand why certain relationships end in divorce or incurable unhappiness. He’s become so educated on this topic, that he has a 94% prediction rate of couples divorcing.
Some of the statistics he’s found are wild, and what’s even crazier is how applicable they are to nearly every single couple. In a way, it’s really encouraging to know that whatever issues there are in a relationship, they can be fixed by simply working on X. The flip side of that is that healthy relationships take a lot of work! Who’s up for some labor?
- Express interest – We’ve talked about asking good questions in a previous blog post. This is what expressing interest is all about! It’s about getting into your partner’s world and getting curious about them — the way they think, what they find interesting, how they receive love, etc. If they love playing tennis, get outside and play with them! If your partner is starting a new project at work that they’re excited about, inquire about it like crazy.
- Be gentle in conflict – Conflict is unavoidable. It’s never fun, but it can actually be really healthy! It becomes unhealthy when blame and criticism enter the picture. This often happens when absolutes like “you always” or “you never” come into the conversation. Defensiveness and acting superior to your partner is another sure way to escalate things. Instead, act with mutual respect, a good sense of humor, openness and empathy. #BringInTheFeels
- Repair negative interactions – You are only responsible for your part of a problem. Regardless of whether or not your partner sees what they have done wrong in a situation and apologizes for it, you can and should still own your side. Apologize (sincerely) with no agenda or expectations of what they will do next and forgive before you’re asked. This is a really hard one to do, but if you can do it, you’ll help create a really safe space for your main squeeze.
We don’t have four decades under our belts, but we completely agree with Dr. Gottman’s findings. Along with these, we believe that friendship is key for a healthy relationship. If you don’t have a foundation of trust, respect, good communication and fun, you might want to consider rebuilding some things or moving on from your current partner.
All of these tips are a lot easier said than done. If you’re not doing these perfectly right now, don’t beat yourself up. Progress is what counts, and you can’t have progress without awareness. Remember, you can only control yourself.
Now let’s get some happiness up in here!