Let’s explore the magic relationship ratio– Backed by Science.
Whether it’s about not having enough sex, the dirty laundry, or spending too much money,
Their discovery was simple. The difference between happy and unhappy couples is the balance between positive and negative interactions during the conflict. There is a very specific ratio that makes love last.
On the other hand, unhappy couples tend to engage in fewer positive interactions to compensate for their escalating negativity.
If the positive-to-negative ratio during conflict is 1-to-1 or less, that’s unhealthy and indicates a couple teetering on the edge of divorce.
So what’s considered a negative interaction?
The One Negative Interaction
While anger is certainly a negative interaction and a natural reaction to conflict, it isn’t necessarily damaging to a marriage. Dr. Gottman explains in
Negative interactions during conflict include being emotionally dismissive or critical or becoming defensive. Body language such as eye-rolling can be a powerful negative interaction, and it is important to remember that negativity holds a great deal of emotional power, which is why it takes five positive interactions to overcome anyone negative interaction.
And these negative interactions happen in healthy marriages, too, but they are quickly repaired and replaced with validation and empathy.
The Five Positive Interactions
1. Be Interested
2. Express Affection
Do you hold hands with your partner, offer a romantic kiss, or embrace your partner when greeting them at the end of the day?
Expressions of affection can happen in small ways both within and outside of conflict.
Within conflict, displays of physical and verbal affection reduce stress. If you’re having a difficult conversation and your partner takes your hand and says, “Gosh, this is hard to talk about.
I really love you and I know we can figure this out together,” you will likely feel better because their display of affection is bound to reduce tension and bring you closer together.
3. Demonstrate They Matter
Bringing up something that is important to your partner, even when you disagree, demonstrates that you are putting their interests on par with yours and shows your partner that you care about them. And how you treat each other outside of conflict influences how well you’ll handle your inevitable disagreements.
For example, if your partner is having a bad day and you stop to pick up dinner on the way home, you’re showing him that he is on your mind.
Those small gestures accumulate over time and will provide a buffer of positivity in your marriage so that when you do enter a conflict, it will be easier to engage in positive interactions that outweigh the negative.
4. Intentional Appreciation
How you think about your partner influences how you treat them. By focusing on the positives of your marriage such as the good moments from your past and your partner’s admirable traits, you put positive energy into your relationship.
Negativity is bound to enter your thoughts, especially during conflict. Intentionally focusing on the positive will counterbalance any of the moments when you struggle to find something good about your partner.Now turn your thoughts into action: every time you express your positive thinking and give your partner a verbal compliment, no matter how small, you are strengthening your marriage.