The Secret To Long-Lasting Relationships, According To Science

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Secret To Long Lasting Relationships

Do you know there is a science-backed formula that can help couples build long lasting relationships? Yes, the secret behind lasting relationships has been cracked open!

“Till death do us part” is not merely a part of an oath; it’s a sentiment, an emotion that stimulates couples to enter into the bond of holy matrimony with a resolution to stick together till their last breath.

Alas, most of the marriages that begin with this noble sentiment are fated to end in broken promises, resentments, and ultimately in a legal separation or divorce. A study even goes on to claim that in the United States, “nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.”

But divorce is not the only sign of a failed marriage. There are many couples who end up staying in a bitter, unhealthy, and dysfunctional wedlock that is marked by conflicts, aggression, and in worst cases, abuse and violence. Sadly, this rings true for all romantic partners, whether married or not.

Read: Are you being emotionally abused in your relationship? Take this emotional abuse test to find out!

So is there no happily ever after? Are all relationships doomed to become toxic? Or there is a magic formula for long lasting relationships which is known and mastered only by the “chosen ones”, whose nuptial success is both revered and envied by the other less fortunate couples?

The Secret To Long-Lasting Relationships

Ever since colonial times, Americans have considered the sanctity of marriage as the bedrock of a healthy society. But as the number of divorces started rising in the 1970s, social scientists became interested in the topic of a lasting marriage.

They invited couples to participate in their research work and closely observed the partners interact with each other in their labs, with the sole purpose of finding out the secret behind long lasting relationships. What factors cause a marriage to fall apart and what are the rules for long lasting relationships?

One of those researchers was the renowned psychologist John Gottman. He has done extensive work on this topic for the past 4 decades. Along with his wife Julie Gottman, another notable psychologist, he runs the Gottman Institute to help couples build lasting relationships based on scientific research.

And their several years’ worth of studies and findings can be summed up in one statement: the secret to love is just kindness.

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

According to the Gottmans, lasting relationships rely on two traits:

  • Kindness
  • Generosity

The secret behind building lasting relationships is so simple yet so complicated. Let’s have a close look at how these 2 traits help to form long lasting relationships.

In his line of work, Gottman observed many romantic partners, both in and out of wedlock, interacting with each other. These couples fall under 2 categories:

  • The Disasters
  • The Masters

While being interviewed, the “disaster couples” showed clear signs of arousal, which can be interpreted as the physiological reaction to stress or “fight-flight” mode. It means that they were under a lot of stress simply by being next to each other. Criticism, judgment, aggression, and resentments were bred in their relationships.

The electrodes that were hooked up to them read that the “disaster couple” partners had accelerated heart rates, active sweat glands, and fast blood flows, all indicating that they were prepared to attack and to be attacked in their relationship. They were covertly snappy and had no compassion for each other’s follies.

Saying I love you is not enough to form long lasting relationships.
Saying I love you is not enough to form long lasting relationships

Read: Stress: How It Affects The Mind And Body

On the other hand, the “Masters” ranked lower in the detection of physiological arousal. They were calm and affectionate with each other as if they had mastered the art of sustaining long lasting relationships. They had somehow created an environment of trust and intimacy, which made them physically and emotionally comfortable with one another.

Following up with the research subjects after several years, Gottman found that the “Masters” couple had a much higher rate of successful relationships than that of the “Disasters”.

In his quest to unlock the mystery behind the successful long lasting relationships of the Master couples, Gottman conducted further research and found out some startling truths about long lasting relationships as well as relationships that languish.

  • Connection Bids
  • Shared Joy

He observed that each partner of a romantic relationship makes connection requests, or “Bids” to the other partner.

“Come, taste the soup”

“Have you seen this news?”

“You must read this book, it’s amazing”

All these statements might appear to be casual conversations, but in reality, these are requests from a partner to take an interest in something they are excited about, to connect, to participate.

Now when such a “bid” is placed,  it is up to the other partner whether to “turn toward their partner” or to “turn away”. The Master couples turned toward each other and engaged one another much more than the Disaster couples.

Another factor that strengthens the future of long lasting relationships is shared joy or excitement. When one of the partners shares good news about something that is important to them and the other partner reacts with enthusiasm and excitement, it boosts the morale of the former partner.

Similarly, if a shared joy is greeted with a cold shoulder, it dampens the spirit of the partner who was looking for some appreciation or encouragement.

So Where Do Kindness And Generosity Come Into The Picture?

Saying I love you is not enough to form long lasting relationships.
To have long lasting relationships, you have to offer unwavering support

It is easier to be attentive to your partner or respond affectionately to their “bids” when you are in a good mood or when things are going well. But when you are stressed, tired, or distracted, only kindness toward your partner will make you respond affirmatively.

When you are not in total agreement with a decision your partner makes, only kindness prevents you from raining on their parade.

When you get angry and hurt during a fight, only kindness stops you from snapping and hurting them back.

But oftentimes a partner might try to be supportive or make a loving gesture that gets poorly executed. A husband might have the intention to take his wife out for a romantic dinner but had to cancel due to some urgent task at the office. In such situations, the other partner has to be generous enough to appreciate the intention.

When couples show kindness toward one another, even under stressful circumstances, and chose to be generous enough to overlook each other’s little mistakes, they form long lasting relationships for life.

Read: How To Stop Arguments? 5 Emotional Self-Regulation Skills For Constructive Arguments

How To Build Lasting Relationships?

The main difference between the “Disaster” and the “Masters” is that the former group looks for the mistakes of their partners and holds grievances. These give way to resentments, contempt, and the eventual downfall of the relationship.

While the latter looks for reasons to be grateful for their relationship. They are kind to their partners even when they are under a lot of stress. They also generously acknowledge the good intentions of their partners, overlooking any unintended consequences.

So, flex your kindness and generosity muscles and keep working on these two traits.

Love Is A Verb

A relationship might end due to many reasons, but the secret to forming long lasting relationships lies in two magic ingredients: kindness and generosity, at all times; even when the bills are pouring in, even when work is driving you mad, or even when the kid just won’t stop crying. Therefore, the signs of a long lasting relationship are compassion, shared joy, engagement, forgiveness, and the ability to let go of petty differences.

All long lasting relationships need to be based on kindness and generosity.
When I say I love you more…

So how did you like our article on the topic of long lasting relationships? I hope by now you know how to have a long lasting relationship with your partner and what are the things that you need to steer clear of. Do let us know your views by commenting down below.

Read: Why Relationships Fail


Lasting relationships come down to 2 basic Traits
Lasting relationships come down to 2 basic Traits
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