Marriage has been the subject of numerous research and there’s some great news on that front. There’s a magic formula for a happy marriage developed by a therapist and relationship researcher called Dr. John Gottman. Let’s explore the highly praised 5:1 formula.
The 5:1 ratio or formula
The 5:1 formula simply states that for every negative interaction, you need to engage in five or more positive ones for a happy, healthy relationship. Conflict is expected and normal in every relationship but if the negative interactions outweigh the positive ones, the stability of the marriage is threatened.
The key difference the research found was that the difference between happy and unhappy couples is the number of positive interactions they have during conflict. Happy couples even when they’re discussing serious issues pertaining to their relationships, even when they’re deep in disagreement still maintain signs of affection in the way they engage. There may even be some teasing and laughing. Even if the fight was really bad, happy couples compensate for it by having more positive interactions while unhappy couples don’t. In fact, for unhappy couples, negative interactions escalate, leading to even more negative experiences.
Negative interactions have a longer lasting impact, lodging themselves more firmly in the brain which is why you need more positive experiences to counteract a bad one. Negative memories are often more visually specific and they have a stronger emotional hold so couples need to be deliberate about creating positive interactions.
Negative interactions during conflict include being emotionally dismissive or critical or becoming defensive, and body language things like eye-rolling. These interactions are not exclusive to unhealthy marriages, they also happen in healthy relationships. The only difference is in healthy relationships they are quickly repaired and replaced with validation and empathy.
Healthy couples engage in conflict differently. They are gentler and make efforts to make repairs in big and small ways. Here are some specific and general things to do to boost your positive interactions.
You need to be curious about your partner. Ask questions about their day, listen when they talk, and take an interest in the things they’re interested in. Look at each conversation and an opportunity to know them more, to connect more.
Express affection in big and small ways within and outside of conflict. Things like holding hands, kissing, and even embracing at the end of the day. Verbal and physical displays of affection during conflict reduce stress and tension. 10 Ways To Show Affection Without Physical Touch
Demonstrate they matter
Small acts that demonstrate your partner matters enhance the positivity of the relationship. For example, if they’re having a bad day, make them their comfort meal. These small gestures consistently accumulate and provide a positive buffer in your marriage so that when you do have conflict, the positive interactions outweigh the negative.
Focusing on the positives and appreciating your partner’s efforts in the relationship increases the positivity in the relationship. Everyone appreciates having their efforts acknowledged.
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Keep the communication lines open at all times so that even when you’re not physically together you’re still connected. It can be something as small as a sweet text message or a surprise note for them to find.
Try and understand where your partner is coming from and when you’re wrong apologize. A simple apology and acknowledgement that you’re wrong goes a long way in building positive reserves in your relationship. Relationships: 5 Apology Languages/Styles
Find opportunities to have fun together, opportunities to laugh, to be playful and silly together. Just make sure it’s something you both enjoy which will have the effect of bringing you closer. 7 Ways To Add Fun Into Your Marriage Or Dating Life
Go forth and increase the ratio of your positive interactions.
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