How’s your marriage?
According to Dr. John Gottman, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington and the founder of the Gottman Relationship Institute, there are several things to consider when gauging the health of your marriage.
Here they are:
1. High Levels of Friendship, Respect, Affection, and Humor
This is defined as liking each other, being each other’s best friend, doing things together; showing interest in and respect for the other’s thoughts and feelings, avoiding put-downs, supporting each other’s goals and aspirations, feeling affection for each other, having fun and laughter together, being Number One in each other’s eyes.
2. A Ratio of 5:1 or Better of Positive to Negative Interactions
This means that your relationship averages at least five pleasant, friendly, or loving experiences or periods of time for every hostile word, angry argument, or time spent feeling hurt or resentful. And 5:1 is the minimum!
3. Successful “Bids for Attention”
e.g., The wife says, “Hey, listen to this!” She is trying to get her husband’s attention for a conversation. If the husband keeps on reading the paper, ignoring her, he’s turning away her bid for attention. If he says “Huh?” and lifts his eyes off the Sports Page for a second or two, he’s turning toward her—a good sign. And if he actually listens to whatever she wanted to say, that a real connection! In successful marriages, partners turn toward each other 86% of the time (vs. divorcing couples who on average turn toward each other 33% of the time, or less).
4. Soft Starts of Disagreements
In successful marriages, disagreements are started softly, without critical, contemptuous remarks about the other person (not doing so is Gottman’s first Divorce Predictor).
5. Husband Accepts Influence from Wife
In successful marriages, husbands accept influence from their wives. (e.g., If a wife says she’s afraid her husband is driving too fast for the rainy road conditions, and he says, “No way I’m slowing down, I know what I’m doing!”—this is a shaky marriage.) There must be give and take in a relationship—giving and accepting influence, and research shows that women are well accustomed to accepting influence from men. So it’s crucial that men learn to do the same!
6. Partners are Aware of and Respect the Other’s Needs, Likes, Dislikes, and Their Inner Life
They ask questions to find out; they listen; they care!
So, allow me to ask again:
How’s your marriage?
I hope you won’t hesitate to call us here at Focus on the Family if we can be of any help at all. Just pick up the phone and call 1-800-233-6459. Or, click here.
Tomorrow, we’ll share Dr. Gottman’s seven predictors of divorce.