Psychologist John Gottman has spent over 40 years researching relationships. He has found that the majority of divorces do not result from major differences in opinions, but instead the inability to communicate differing viewpoints in a respectful and open-minded manner. Furthermore, he frequently sees people try and change their partner’s personality according to their wants instead of accepting them for who they are.
Gottman and his team of researchers operate out of the Love Lab, a homey setting that helps couples feel comfortable enough to start openly talking about day-to-day things and any issues they are going through.
“In the Love Lab, researchers claim they can predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple will thrive or fail after watching and listening to them for just five minutes.”
Love Lab cameras are positioned to record actions, interactions and reactions--both verbal and physical. After 40 years of researching couples in this setting, Dr. John Gottman and his research team identified 5 key signs present in relationships that have what it takes to go the distance.
1. Partners Are Polite & Respectful To One Another
You never stop asking your partner how his/her day was, or thinking about their feelings in relation to what you say and do. You view one another as equal parts in a team, and this respect carries into all aspects of life, including how you talk and interact with one another.
2. Everyone Complains, But Long Lasting Couples Don’t Criticize
Complaints about life, work or the weather shouldn’t turn into vindictive commentary towards your partner. Happy couples understand that their partner will make mistakes. They know that forgetting to pay the rent is best met by adding new time management skills around the house (wall calendar anyone?) as opposed to criticizing their partner’s character or personality.
3. They Are Not Contemptuous Towards One Another
Long lasting couples speak to one another in a loving and respectful manner. They care and appreciate what the other has to say, even if they don’t always agree. Happy couples speak to one another exactly how they want to be spoken to: with respect. That means no eye-rolling, name calling, sneering or hurtful insults.
4. They Build Each Other Up
Partners that build each other up have a tendency to stay together for the long haul, while couples that compete and tear each other down tend to fall apart. By using disagreements as a type of power struggle you never have the chance to truly hear out your partner’s perspective. And that’s a recipe for disaster, or rather divorce. Arguments can offer a chance to let out some steam, but more importantly they are about hearing one another out and finding a compromise.
5. They Always Acknowledge Each Other
Playing the "I'm ignoring you" game isn't helping anyone and couples that engage in this sort of squalor are more likely to break up.