“The Grass is Greener Where You Water It”- An appropriate analogy is applied when it comes to nurture your relationship through endless love, care, affection and a perfect ‘we time’.
After studying more than 3,000 couples in his Love Lab over the last four decades, Dr. John Gottman has discovered that the most important issue in marriage is trust.
Can I trust you to be there for me when I’m upset?
Can I trust you to choose me over your friends?
Can I trust you to respect me?
Couples that trust each other understand that a good marriage doesn’t just happen on its own. It needs to be cultivated.
These couples express appreciation for each other. They brag about each other’s talents and achievements. They say “I love you” every day.
Even in the heat of conflict, they consider the other’s perspective. They are able to empathize with each other, even when they don’t agree, and they are there for each other during times of illness or stress.
They understand that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. As Neil Barringham says, “The grass is greener where you water it.”
Trust is built in very small moments. In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner.
One single moment is not that important, but if you’re consistently choosing to turn away, then trust erodes in a relationship—very gradually and very slowly.
When this happens, the story of your relationship begins to turn negative. You begin to focus on your partner’s flaws. You forget about their traits you admire and value.
Eventually, you start making what researcher Caryl Rusbult calls “negative comparisons.” You start to compare your spouse to someone else, real or imagined, and you think, “I can do better.”
Once you start thinking that you can do better, then you begin a cascade of not committing to the relationship, of trashing your partner instead of cherishing them and building resentment rather than gratitude.
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely explains this phenomenon in dating.
1. Turn Towards Bids for Connection
Bids are the building blocks of lasting love. In one study of newlywed couples in Dr. Gottman’s lab, couples that stayed together turned towards each other 86% of the time, whereas couples that eventually divorced only did it 33% of the time. That’s a big difference.
When bids fail, as they inevitably do in all relationships, seek to repair. Remember that repair attempts are the secret weapon of emotionally intelligent couples.
2. Flip Your Internal Script
Negative thoughts cause you to miss 50% of your partner’s bids, according to research by Robinson and Price. This makes it difficult to build trust.
Learn to separate specific relationship problems from the overall view of your partner. Make an intentional effort to replace negative thoughts with compassion and empathy.
3. Ritualize Cherishing
The best way to keep yourself from making “negative comparisons” is to actively cherish your partner. Get in the habit of thinking positive thoughts about each other rather than thoughts about someone else.