6 tips to make your relationships amazing!

6 tips to make your relationships amazing!

There isn’t one thing that creates happiness; but if there were one thing that most significantly impacts on happiness it would almost certainly be … the quality of our relationships.

In fact, our relationships strongly influence not just our happiness but also, our health and wellbeing and even our longevity.

So if you want more happiness by having more and better relationships, keep reading…

via Eric Barker

Everybody asks how you got together. Nobody asks how you stayed together.

You get all kinds of relationship advice but it’s usually worth as much as the fortune cookie paper it’s printed on. Romance novels, self-help gurus and your aunt Margaret who still quotes “When Harry Met Sally.” Nobody has a straight answer.

So what if we looked at the data? Like real data.

But some would say that’s not romantic; that the answer is obvious — couples just need clear communication. The backbone of marriage counseling. People need to just speak openly and clearly to one another…

And if you believe that you’re dead wrong.

From The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy:

The assumption was that if people could give one another feedback, then communication would become clearer and pathology would just vanish. This was a very good idea. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t usually true. In ailing marriages people generally communicate very clearly; but what they communicate is mostly negative…

Wha…? Well, people just need to use “active listening.” Works for hostage negotiators. Therapists recommend it. I even read about it on some guy’s blog…

Wrong. Lovely idea in theory but nobody can actually do it when their spouse is screaming at the top of their lungs and throwing things.

From The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy:

In the stability analyses, all the statistics were nonsignificant: These sequences occurred very infrequently for all couples, approximately 4 seconds out of 900. In the satisfaction analyses, the statistics were again all nonsignificant. Hence, to summarize, these active listening exchanges hardly ever occurred (4.4% of the time) and they predicted nothing.

Hmmm. Looks like a lot of what we’ve been told doesn’t mesh with the data. In fact, the research shows that many of the people we assume have terrible marriages often have the best ones.

From The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy:

Both conflict-avoiding and volatile, passionate couples can have stable, happy marriages. In fact, I discovered that the bickering, passionate couples were the only ones to still have a romantic marriage after 35 years (Gottman, 1994a, 1994b).

Confused yet? Me too. So where is all this data coming from?

Gottman. Professor John Gottman. The man, the myth, the legend. All relationship roads lead to Gottman. He’s like the Olympic Gold Medalist of Marriage Research, the Nobel Prize of Nuptials and Reigning Champ of Romance all rolled into one.

He’s done the research, got the data and brings the answers in his book The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy.

He knows what really produces divorce and actually makes relationships last. And since we’ve got a lot of myths in our heads, it’s time to steal a little academic fire from the gods and use it to bring the warmth back in our love lives.

Let’s get to it…

I’m Positive Being Positive Is A Positive

Most marital therapy talks a lot about clear communication and problem-solving. But that sounds more like it’s coming from McKinsey Consulting than the Kinsey Institute. You’re not creating a marketing plan for a new line of detergent — this is a relationship. You don’t want to be “efficient and conflict-free” — you want to be happy.

And that’s what the research shows; troubled relationships shouldn’t lead with problem-solving. Positive feeling must come first. What do you appreciate about your partner? What wowed you so much that you got together with them in the first place?

If the positive feeling is there, problem-solving is easy. If the positive feeling isn’t there, no amount of problem-solving gimmicks are going to save you.

From The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy:

The two necessary “staples” of marriages that work (whatever their typology) are (1) an overall level of positive affect, and (2) an ability to reduce negative affect during conflict resolution.

Did I mention that this #1 marriage researcher — the leading academic relationship expert — actually started out as a mathematician? So he’s good about giving specific answers. How much positivity do you need?

A 5 to 1 ratio, to be exact. Five good things for every one negative. When the ratio is closer to 1 to 1, you might want to start thinking about who is going to get the house in the divorce settlement.

From The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy:

We discovered that the positive/ negative ratio in interactive behavior during conflict resolution is at least 5 to 1 in stable, happy marriages. In marriages headed for divorce the positive/ negative ratio is only .8 to 1, so that there are 1.25 as many negatives as positives… The basic result of these predictions is that the ratio of negativity to positivity predicts marital outcome.

Just as the amount of positive emotion is positively critical, your new nemesis is “negative affect reciprocity.” That’s PhD-speak for escalating anger. She yells and then he yells louder and then she yells louder until the kids are asking for noise-canceling headphones for Christmas.

The level of negative affect reciprocity distinguishes happy and unhappy couples better than any other metric Gottman has come across. Do not let conflict escalate like an out of control nuclear reaction or you’re headed for marital Chernobyl.

From The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy:

Negative affect reciprocity has been the most consistent discriminator between happily and unhappily married couples. It is far better a measurement even than the amount of negative affect. This discrimination has been replicated in labs worldwide (for a review of this research, see Gottman, 1994a, 1994b).

The best marriages have “positive sentiment override.” Basically this means you are irrationally biased toward the positive when it comes to your partner. When they do something negative, you see it as fleeting and situational. (“Must have had a bad day.”) And when they do something positive, well, that’s just indicative of who they truly are — a lovely person.

And, yes, the opposite is seen in bad marriages: negative sentiment override. When this point is reached, even good things are seen in a bad light. (“You bought me a gift? Okay, what stupid thing did you do that you need to apologize for?”) And when they screw up, that’s who they are.

Obviously, positive sentiment override is better. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt, believe the best about them. When couples have this attitude fights are less frequent — and when they do happen they’re far gentler.

(To learn more about how you and your children can lead a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

So we know positive emotions are good — but what’s bad? And what’s the one thing that spells absolute doom?

Hint: no, it’s not anger…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE