The Five To One Relationship Secret

There was some interesting research done a few years ago by John and Jule Gottman that shows in a successful marriage the positive interactions between the couple outweigh the negative ones by at least five to one.

Five To One Relationship SecretI like this idea on two counts.


It’s okay to bicker and argue as long as you also have fun together and show each other how much you care. You just have to have five times as much fun as you do strife. That’s good because I’d hate to think the little spats we have every now and then were permanently damaging!


You can be nice to your partner in advance, and when you do argue it won’t seem so devastating or such a threat to your relationship. You are making the foundations of your relationship stronger with every positive thing you do or say. This is a good reminder to do nice things for your partner every day. And nice things often get reciprocated I find!

Of course, it’s not just the number of negative interactions that count but also the severity of them. If your arguments are vicious and personal and your good times and compliments not that great, you haven’t got the balance right even if the numbers add up.

In our case, we are generally nice to each other and there’s no shortage of good times and kisses. The fights are more like heated discussions. They are mild and over in a flash and easily forgiven.

Can it be as simple as that to keep a marriage going forever? I’d like to think this relationship secret was the key to reducing the current divorce statistics. Maybe they should teach it in schools.

In any case, it can’t do any harm to strive for a positive balance like that. The challenge will probably be to remember it in times of extreme stress when we tend to take our worries out on those closest to us.

Over to you: How does this dynamic work in your relationship? Have you experienced both sides of this positive/negative balance? Please share in the comments below.

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6 Responses to “The Five To One Relationship Secret”

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  1. In any marriage give and take and compromise are what works best.
    Nayna Kanabar ( recently posted…Lemon Drizzle Cake ~Eggless

  2. Alana says:

    I’ve been married for nearly 40 years and I agree with Nayna. I don’t know if we have that 5 to 1 ratio in my marriage – but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is close. It really is important to do the small, kind things every day.
    Alana recently posted…Sustainable Saturday-Charleston South Carolina Farmers Market

  3. Great post. I agree with your 1 in 5 rule. My great grandparents were married for over 75 years before my Gt. Gma died and they said the key to their successful marriage was love, mutual respect and ‘yes, dear’. I think your tips really help people to keep this and have a long and happy marriage.
    Tandy Elisala recently posted…Balancing Emotional Safety: Day 17 of 30 Day Family Caregiver Series

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