There’s a magic ratio to stay together, and it’s not about avoiding conflict.
Indeed John Gottman’s research shows that no matter the conflict style the couple has, they will stay together as long as the positive moments outnumber the negative ones by 5 to 1.
What The Ratio Means
In the past, and in large part until today, many believe that strong relationships have little fights in them. But research has dispelled that myth.
Indeed in Why Marriages Succeed or Fail John Gottman explains that one type of successful couples, which he calls “volatile”- fight frequently and often even vehemently.
But as long as they keep a ratio of positive to negatives of 5:1 during their arguments they were all happy and stable together.
Negativity has more power to inflict damages than positivity has power to heal and bring us closer.
Bank Account Analogy
Imagine your relationship as a bank account. Every positive interaction and sign is worth one Dollar. Every negative one is worth five Dollars.
To keep it positive, it’s not enough to be slightly kinder than you are mean. It means you need to be overwhelmingly kind to offset any meanness and contemptuous signs.
Examples of Negative Interactions
It’s impossible to keep a positive perspective if negativity permeates our relationships.
The signs of negativity besieging our relationships are The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse:
And I added:
When they get together and the negatives start outweighting the positive, the relationship can spiral into a vicious circle and lead to a break up.
The examples of positive uinteractions during conflict are the following:
- Asking questions
How to Stay Together
The analogy of the 1 dollar VS the 5 dollar is a good one because, Gottman says, it’s all indeed about small daily actions and behavior.
- Turning towards instead of away
- A smile
- Affirming nod
- A kiss when you’re back home
If they don’t come natural to you… Don’t worry. Start by implementing them intentionally and consistently.
Create a habit of daily, constant positive reinforcements.
Where to Start
Start by getting to your partner well. Then add a culture of appreciation, fondness and admiraiton. And learn your partners’ bid for affections so that you can learn to turn towards each other.
To stay together research has shown that the positives have to vastly outnumber the negatives. That’s why it’s paramount that you build positive daily habits of doing many small nice things towards each other.