Are you getting your relationship ‘five a day’?

5 September 2016

Are you getting your five a day when it comes to the good stuff that will nourish and sustain your relationship?

Magic five
Award winning marital therapist, researcher and author Dr John Gottman made a key observation of couples who stayed together – that they have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions in their relationships.

A positive interaction might be a thoughtful action, asking questions, showing empathy, a kind word, a hug, a gift, a shared joke, a romantic gesture. And a negative interaction could be a criticism, a disagreement, hurt feelings, anger and hostility etc.

Gottman uses this ‘Magic Relationship Ratio’ to predict couples who will go the distance and who will divorce. He noticed that unhappy couples have higher negative to positive interactions and over time this slowly eroded the love between them.

Daily diet
Gottman says the balance is not equal because negative interactions hold a stronger emotional charge and have more power to damage your relationship than positive interactions have the power to heal.

So to keep your relationship healthy, make sure that for every one negative interaction you have with your partner, make up for it with five positive interactions to keep you in credit.

As long as you have five times as many good interactions with your partner as bad interactions, your relationship will be more able to withstand your rockier patches and be more stable overall.

Getting your five a day
Couples who come to Relate have often been focusing so hard on their problems that the joy and happiness seems to have disappeared from their relationship and they have become problem saturated.

Their positive to negative ratio count is dangerously low and this is putting their relationship into a very vulnerable state and they often feel they are at crisis point.

If this sounds familiar, try to park your differences for a while and put your focus back on building up some positive credit in your bank.

By that I mean go out and have some fun together. Plan a romantic date or just make some time to connect with each other. Up the positive interaction count so you remember why you are together, what you love about each other and make your relationship one that’s worth fighting for.

Conflict is healthy
Gottman also believes that the one negative interaction is just as important as the five positive in this ratio because conflict and arguments are also necessary to keep our relationships healthy and honest.

Couples who never argue or complain aren’t doing themselves any favours, as conflict avoidance is not the answer either.

If you’ve got something you want to talk to your partner about it, it’s healthier to express what’s on your mind. That doesn’t mean bringing up every little thing – just not bottling up your emotions unnecessarily.

Need further help?
Want more information on Relationship Counselling? Or just need someone to talk to? We can help. Call our friendly appointments team on 01234 356350 or email us.

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