The following is a summary of marriage research conducted by Dr. John Gottman. Read more about Dr. Gottman’s work in The Relationship Cure.
Happy couples respond positively to one another.
Partners continually make “bids” for each other’s attention, closeness, and reassurance through comments, questions, and/or gestures.
In successful marriages, spouses responded positively to these bids 86% of the time.
Through their words and their actions, they invited more connection. They communicated (with or without words), “You matter to me,” and “I want to connect with you, too.”
In fact, successful couples had at least 20 (yes, twenty) positive interactions for every 1 (one) negative interaction!
Happy couples argue.
What’s important is how you go about it. Among couples with lasting marriages…
About 80% of complaints came from wives. However, they raised issues gently and brought them up sooner rather than later.
In addition, husbands were willing to be influenced by their wives and to change their behavior.
Neither spouse became upset enough with one another to raise their heart rates above 95 beats per minute.
They didn’t escalate their arguments, but used humor, reassurance, and distraction to ease the tension.
In fact, successful couples made at least 5 positive remarks or gestures for every negative during an argument. (Remember, when they weren’t arguing, the ratio was about 20 to 1.)