Relationship Tips 101

In this article I'd like to share what the research shows as being very helpful for keeping relationships strong and connected. Since 1973 Dr. John Gottman has been studying what he calls the "masters and disasters" of relationships. From these studies he has been able to predict with 90% accuracy which relationships will last, and which will fail. Dr. Gottman (1999; 2005) suggests the following tips to keep your relationship strong:

? Seek help early. The average couple waits six years before seeking help for relationship problems (and keep in mind, half of all relationships that end do so in the first seven years).

? Edit yourself. Couples who avoid saying every angry thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest.

? Soften your "start up." Arguments first "start up" because a partner sometimes escalates the conflict from the get-go by making a critical or contemptuous remark in a confrontational tone.

? Accept influence. A marriage succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife. If a woman says, "Do you have to work Thursday night? My mother is coming that weekend, and I need your help getting ready," and her husband replies, "My plans are set, and I'm not changing them," this is a guy is in a shaky marriage. A husband's ability to be persuaded by his wife (rather than vice-versa) is so crucial because, research shows, women are already well practiced at accepting influence from men, and a true partnership only occurs when a husband is able to do so as well.

? Have high standards. Happy couples have high standards for each other. The most successful couples are those who refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. The lower the level of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a relationship, the happier the couple is down the road.

? Learn to repair and exit the argument. Successful couples know how to exit an argument. Happy couples know how to repair the situation before an argument gets completely out of control. Successful repair attempts include: changing the topic to something completely unrelated; using humor; stroking your partner with a caring remark ("I understand that this is hard for you"); making it clear you're on common ground ("This is our problem"); backing down (in marriage you have to yield to win); and, in general, offering signs of appreciation for your partner and his or her feelings along the way ("I really appreciate and want to thank you for.?"). If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.

? Focus on the bright side. In a happy relationship, couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship ("We laugh a lot") as opposed to negative ones ("We never have fun"). A good relationship must have a rich climate of positivity. Make deposits to your "emotional bank account".

If you are in a relationship where there is a climate of negativity and/or you are not feeling as close to your partner as you'd like, don't avoid the signs. Seek help early if you need to, and start to build up the positivity that may currently be missing. The key seems to be having a healthy "emotional bank account", and following these seven tips can give you a head start.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Gottman's research, please visit his website at: http://www.gottman.com

References:

Gottman, J. M. & Silver, N. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. NY: Three Rivers Press.

http://www.gottman.com (2005)

Dr. Tanja Haley is a psychologist in private practice in Calgary, Alberta. She specializes in working with couples, and with adults dealing with stress, depression, and trauma issues. Along with a full-time private practice, Tanja also teaches for the Campus Alberta program in counselling and is an Oral Examiner for the College of Alberta Psychologists. You can contact Tanja at [email protected], or visit her website: http://www.drtanja.com

In The News:


Relationship Reality: Are Your Relationships Based In Reality or Fantasy?

Within the next two to three minutes, you will uncover... Read More

Extra-marital Affairs...Yes or No!!!

Extra-marital Affairs?Yes or No!!! (Think and Tell)"Human Relations", a complex... Read More

Successful on the Outside, Lonely on the Inside: Our Hidden Epidemic

I say "Loneliness. Isolation. Invisibility."You ask "Eleanor Rigby?" I say... Read More

Has The Magic Gone From Your Relationship?

Kathleen and Dan have been together for several years now.... Read More

Recharging Your Relationship

Now you may ask why we would write an article... Read More

Is It Love or Money?

What do women or men want out of a relationship?... Read More

How Compatible Are You and Your Partner?

What are the things you argue about? Where are the... Read More

Love Problems

Often times when a couple gets married, things get pushed... Read More

My Concept

From my own personal experiences with relationships I believe in... Read More

Breaking Your Relationship Pattern, Part 4

Finally, after all of the hard work you have done... Read More

Live Like You Were Dying: Help for Overcoming an Affair

In the recovery phase of my husbands last affair I... Read More

True Friendships - How to Get True Friends and Friendships

True Friendship - RecognitionHow can we find true friendships in... Read More

The Revenge Affair: Characteristics of the Adulterer

"I Want to Get Back at Him/Her" is one of... Read More

Great Relationship Advice: The Ability to Communicate

In my workshops with couples, I start with this question:"How... Read More

What Men Want From Women

Actually, it's pretty simple. Deep inside the heart of every... Read More

7 Myths About Good Guys

It is every woman's dream to meet a "Good Guy"... Read More

Calling Forth a Soulmate

How do I draw a soulmate into my life? You... Read More

Relationship Advice: Who Are You and What Have You Done with My Spouse?

"When we marry, we don't marry one person, we marry... Read More

Real Friends

About a year ago, I was talking to a friend... Read More

The Sting

Direct Answers - Column for the week of June 28,... Read More

Great Relationship Advice: Declaration or Demonstration

Q: Could you help us settle a growing conflict in... Read More

American Women Really Don?t Like You

Any man who has dated Asian ladies who live in... Read More

The Use and Abuse of Deception

The word "deceive" is derived from Latin, de- away +... Read More

How To Seduce A Woman The Right Way

Gentlemen, if you really want to seduce a woman the... Read More

Don?t Snuff Out Expressions of Liking

It is hard to express all the emotions to somebody... Read More