2. Common interest makes love last.
It doesn’t take a couple’s therapist to highlight that couples who have similar values and hobbies are most likely going to enjoy each other. Unfortunately, this is only half of the picture.
While many of us view compatibility as the glue the binds love for a lifetime, Dr. Gottman’s research discovered that when it comes to lasting love, compatibility doesn’t really matter.
That’s because our hobbies like, and dislikes change over the years.
What does matter is how you treat each other over time. This means that the stability and happiness of a relationship are less about how your personalities align or what you spend your time doing together and more about how you treat one another every single day.²
This includes how you respond to bids for connection, how you listen, how you show up for your partner when they are hurting.
“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility.” – Leo Tolstoy
3. We must resolve every conflict.
Every person has their own conflict style that they inherited from their family growing up. Research by Dr. Gottman has uncovered that there are three types of stable marriages, not one.
1. One of the stable marriages is a conflict-avoidant marriage where both partners avoid conflict and focus on the relationship’s strength.
2. In the volatile relationship, the partners argue a lot. While this may seem miserable, this relationship can be stable with the right amount of positivity.
3. In a validating relationship, both partners are able to talk about their differences and discover compromises while staying emotionally calm.
Dr. Gottman says, “No one style is necessarily better than another—as long as the style works for both people.” The key to managing conflict is for partners to be matched on their conflict styles. For couples who are matched with conflict-avoidant styles, avoiding problems isn’t that big of a problem. When there are mismatches, problems are bound to become nasty.
4. Affairs cause divorce.
In most instances, it is the problems in the relationship that influences a partner to seek comfort outside of the relationship. Typically, affairs are not so much about sex as they are about finding emotional comfort, support, and understanding.
A research study by the Divorce Mediation Project discovered that 80% of divorces occurred because partners gradually grew apart and no longer felt loved or appreciated. Of those couples, only 20% mentioned that an affair influenced the decision to separate.
5. The ideal spouse is low maintenance.
In Wired for Dating, Stan Tatkin, PsyD. proposes that “there is no such thing as a low-maintenance person when it comes to committed, long-term relationships.” When you bond with someone, they will need your help in some way and will require maintenance whether that is caring for them while they are sick, running an errand for them, or helping them out with something meaningful.
People who seem low maintenance or claim to be low maintenance are often displaying a fear of depending on their romantic partner because in their past, depending on someone has led to feeling neglected.
Due to their view of depending on someone, they will also be unwilling to be dependable for their partner, making it very difficult to cultivate an interdependent relationship. For that reason, marriages with these low maintenance partners tend to end in divorce after years of struggle.
6. Depending on your partner for your well-being is a mistake.
There is some truth to this myth when it comes to extreme cases. Couples who limit the fulfillment of their needs to one person and remove themselves from social circles are at risk for an unhealthy life.
But most often people reference this myth as a way to express their independence to avoid closeness. When a partner says, “Stop depending on me,” or “I won’t depend on anyone because they just let me down,” they are highlighting deep wounds and fears about relying on someone.