I just watched a good video from Dr. John Gottman on what makes relationships work. If you want to view the entire presentation please click on the link. He has studied relationships for over 30 years and written a book describing his work called “The Seven Principles for making Marriage Work”.
I thought I would encapsulate what the video presents with a quick overview:
Positive vs Negative
What things in a marriage predict if couples will get a divorce with over 85 % accuracy? – The ratio of positive input to negative input is 5 to 1 for relationships that work. For those where the negative input is greater than the positive input and does not change it almost always ends in divorce.
Which negative things are most corrosive? – A) criticism (attacking your partner. B) defensiveness – meeting a complaint with a complaint of your own (Masters of relationships usually accept their part of the problem). C) disrespect and contempt – talking down to your partner (“What a jerk you are!”). Masters of relationships build up respect. D) stonewalling – when conflict happens you withdraw.
What do constructive relationships build on? – A) Friendship – we all need to “enhance our love maps” (I’ll encourage you to watch the video to learn more about this important skill – part of the secret is to communicate less by statements and more by asking open ended questions) B) Appreciation – “it can not stay in the brain, it has to come out the mouth” and C) Make bids for emotional connection – turn toward your partner. If a partner does not respond at all to a bid it does not usually happen again.
How are most conflicts resolved in a relationship? – This was the part that astounded me the most. Dr. Gottman studies show that most conflicts do not get solved in a relationship (I am organized and my husband is “messy” – it pretty much has not changed). In dealing with this problem most couples fall into 2 kinds: A) ones that talk about conflict and try to work out compromises (adapting) and B) ones that stop talking and reach gridlock.
How do we move from gridlock to dialogue? – look for the underlying problem and become a “dream catcher”. A) present areas of conflict in a gentle way (soften the startup) B) accept the influence of each other C) call time outs when needed.
If you would like to read more about the Gottman method of working on relationships please click on our link. Mike DeMoss has advanced training in the Gottman method of marriage therapy. He helps couples in having a healthy marriage, he enjoys working with couples who need help.