Dr. John Gottman, renowned marriage therapist, researcher and author, has studied what he calls the "masters and disasters" of marriage. By examining partners' heart rates, facial expressions, and how they talked about their relationship with each other and other people, Dr. Gottman (www.gottman.com) was able to predict with more than 90% accuracy which couples would succeed in their relationship and which would fail. Below are some of the top suggestions he offers for keeping your relationship strong.
"Seek help early..."
Many couples postpone getting help, and as a result, live with unhappiness for far too long.
"Edit yourself..." The happiest couples avoid escalating arguments with each other; touchy subjects are addressed with great respect for the other, without use of confrontational or critical tones.
"Accept influence..." A healthy relationship is dependent upon both partners being able to accept influence from the other. Research shows that while women are well-practiced at accepting influence from men, the reverse is not necessarily the same. Gottman identifies that intimate relationships between men and women succeed to the extent that a man can accept influence from his female partner.
"Have high standards..." The most successful couples are those who refuse to tolerate any expression of hurtful behaviour in their relationship. Establishing this standard early on can have long-term benefits. Research demonstrates that the longevity of a relationship is influenced by partners having developed strategies for repairing or exiting arguments before they become out of control. Examples of some successful repair/exit strategies include:
taking time out and returning to the discussion at a later time, once both partners have calmed down
agreeing to change the topic
making it clear that you are on the same side
appreciating one another's perspectives
"Focus on the bright side..." Couples who experience high relationship satisfaction report that they laugh a lot and have fun together. which is key to nurturing a positive, enduring relationship.