Do you feel like you and your partner are slowly drifting apart? Do you know how to keep your relationship from ending? If you were to rate your relationship right now, where would you put it on a scale of 1 to 10? Does it suck? Do you fight constantly, or are you always mad at your partner for something or disappointed in their behavior?
The good news: There might be a way to turn it around.
John Gottman is considered a pioneer in the study of relationships and his research has provided immense amount of insight into what makes a couple stay together. His initial research in the nineteen-seventies found that they could predict whether a couple would divorce with an overage of over 90 percent accuracy. Gottman asserts that we all have an emotional relationship bank. Your partner can make deposits into that bank or on the flip side they can make withdrawals. Too many withdrawals will empty your bank and you will be left feeling alone and unfulfilled. If you get enough deposits in your relationship account then you’re happy.
Simple, enough, right? Apparently not, or everyone would do it.
But, if you want to make your marriage or relationship last, here are two rules to consider living by:
1) The 5-1 Ratio
When you are involved in a conflict with your partner, you need to have five positive interactions to every negative one.
Unhappy couples tend to engage in fewer positive interactions to compensate for escalating negativity which is a predictor for divorce.
Negative interactions include being defensive, emotionally dismissive or critical and using closed off or negative body language (crossing arms, rolling eyes).
Negativity is so awful in a relationship that it takes five positive interactions to overcome that one bad one. The five to one ratio is all about handling every moment with your partner to empathize, understand, value and reinforce rather than break down, invalidate, negate or diminish.
Everyone fights, but healthy couples find a way to find what they agree upon rather than focusing on what they disagree on.
Never tell your partner they are stupid for feeling the way they feel. You may not understand the way they feel, but it doesn’t make them stupid. Find ways to interact in a positive manner more often than not.
Each time you attempt to connect with your partner is what Gottman calls a “bid”. These connections occur each time your partner seeks attention, affection, affirmation or any positive emotional connection from you and vice versa.
If you miss a “bid,” you are turning away from your partner. Too many missed bids and your emotional bank account depletes, and the relationship falls apart. Gottman found that in the relationships that lasted partners met emotional bids eighty-six percent of the time.
Life is made up of little moments and if you miss or ignore a bid from your partner to connect you are taking moments out of an account that is not unlimited.
Accepting a bid from your partner means you are turning towards them making a deposit in their account. When you turn towards you partner it means things like:
“I hear you.”
“I support you.”
“I’m interested in what you have to say.”
“I’d like to help if I can.”
In short, ask yourself whether or not your relationship is balanced. Do this by keeping a journal for a week and note how many positive interactions (no matter how small) you have. The more you are focused on the positive, the happier you will be.
“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”
What you focus on, you create. Focus on positive interactions and focus on turning towards your partner… instead of turning away. Do it for a week and see if you notice any difference. I’m betting you will.
Originally published on AcingLife.com.