Just as the home you live in is (hopefully) built carefully with sturdy materials, so too should your relationship be. John Gottman and his fellow psychologist (and wife) Julie Gottman developed a mathematical system — or what might be better described as an architectural system — for whether a couple would remain together or divorce, based on physiological data collected while the pair of subjects got into a disagreement. The Gottman’s used decades of their research to create the “sound relationship house theory,” which outlines seven levels of a successful love relationship.
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1. Build love maps: Get to know the inner workings of your partner by asking open-ended questions.
2. Share fondness and admiration: Focus on the good things about your partner, creating a habit of appreciation.
3. Turn toward instead of away: Answer your partner’s bids for attention and support. When your partner reaches out for attention or affection, or some other kind of connection — you should acknowledge it and respond positively (and vice versa).
4. Positive perspective: View your partner through rose-colored glasses, giving them the benefit of the doubt and avoiding what’s called “negative sentiment override”— defaulting to a negative view of your partner.
5. Manage conflict: Identify negative patterns in the relationship and either resolve them when possible, or create an ongoing dialogue with your partner about the problem.
6. Achieve life dreams: Help your partner to accomplish their long-term goals and life dreams.
7. Create shared meaning, the “attic” of the house: Share experiences, stories, and visions of the relationship’s future.
From the importance of a great “how we met story” to the best time to break things off, researchers have explored virtually every aspect of what makes a relationship work — and what doesn’t. Use these takeaways from their findings to create a more successful love life and, as a result, a happier life.
Reprinted from Happiness Hacks. Copyright © 2018, Alex Palmer. Published by The Experiment.