• Monique Harding

THREE tips for a rocking relationship

Updated: May 25, 2018

Our intimate relationships effect every area of our lives. They have the potential to be transformative and propel us towards our deepest dreams and goals. When working well, our relationships can teach us more about ourselves than any other medium. But, what is it that makes a relationship great?

Dr. John Gottman is an American based Researcher and Psychologist who has been studying relationships since the 1970's. He is well known for being able to spend less than 15 minutes with a couple and predict whether they will divorce or stay together with 94% accuracy. He's followed over 3000 couples over nearly 50 years. I guess you could say he knows a thing or two about relationships and what constitutes a healthy, happy one.

Based on his research, the following three tips could be key to your best relationship yet.

1. Express interest in your partner Make it your mission to learn what is happening in your partner's world. Ask questions about their day to day life. We so often forget to check in with our partner or fail to respond to their attempts to connect. Over time this can cause damage to the relationship. Simple things like; asking your partner "How was your day?". Open ended questions about your partners internal world (feelings, thoughts, hopes and fears) allows for a deeper connection to build.

2. Be gentle in conflict Do not attack your partner. Take a deep breath! Focus on your own needs. Try to avoid criticism or blame this only leads to emotional shut down and defensiveness. Rather than saying "You never cook dinner" focus on what it is that you are needing by stating "We still need to figure out dinner tonight and I would really appreciate some help". Try to adopt this gentle start to a conversation next time you are feeling heated and wanting to scold your significant other.

3. Repair, Repair, Repair Take responsibility, even if it’s for only part of the problem. It can be difficult to admit being wrong or making a mistake, but Dr. Gottman holds repair as one of the most important relationship skills. We all engage in conflict, we are not perfect. However, when we hurt each other, we need to have ways to repair the relationship. This process makes conflict an experience that can actually deepen intimacy, bringing the couple closer together. Dr. Gottman says that, “conflict is an opportunity to learn how to love each other better over time.” Distressed couples have equal attempts at repair as happy couples, it is just that these repair attempts tend not to work because these partners don’t feel close, accepted, or safe enough.

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