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.
I 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.