• Meg Josephson, LCSW

Seven Signs your Relationship will Last


Today I'm sharing the Gottman Institutes, "7 Signs Your Relationship Will Last" based on 40 years of research in his "Love Lab" at WashU.




1. Happy couples know each other's "inner world." They make an effort to understand each other's likes, dislikes, dreams and fears. For example, who are your partner's closest friends, recent stressors and what are they focused on recently? People evolve and change. Making an effort to check in on these things ( which may seem trivial ) will make you feel more connected.



2. Looking at your partner with "fondness and admiration" means putting them in a positive light. Even in hard times (which everyone has), the ability to put a positive spin on things will make it more likely that you will look back positively on the good.


Building a culture of admiration isn't easy, but here are two ways to start:

1) Write down 3 qualities of your partners that you admire, then write down an

example of times they've exhibited this (not a writer? Share it verbally over a glass of

wine or coffee with your partner).

2) When your partner does something you appreciate, let them know you noticed and

that it's meaningful to you.

** According to Gottman, this may be the most significant sign of all.



3. Embrace micro-moments of togetherness. We constantly have a choice-- to turn towards our partner's bids for connection or turn away.


Happy couples turn towards each other (even when fighting) to show that they care and respect each other. Even when you don't agree, remaining present and giving your full attention communicates this.


Over the course of a relationship, every little connection you make is deposited into your relationship's emotional bank account. If you've invested with lots of positive despots, you can afford to pull from your "emergency savings" to maintain trust and connection.



4. Happy couples view love as a team effort. This requires considering each other's feelings and perspectives. They listen to each other and work to compromise by finding common ground.


The happiest couples are committed to finding a solution that meets the needs of both by listening without being critical.



5. Relationships have two types of problems. Solvable problems are situational, whereas perpetual problems have underlying conflict. Being able to navigate "solvable problems" without too much difficulty is a sign of a lasting relationship.


Here are 5 ways to work on "solvable problems"--


1. Start the conversation nicely, without introducing a critical tone

2. Offer and receive repair attempt-- Dr. Gottman describes this as "any statement or

action (silly or otherwise) that prevents negativity from escalating out of control"

3. Soothe yourself and your partner-- take a break to do something that feels

calming then return to the problem

4. Place a premium on solving the problem with the use of compromise

5. Don't push each other's buttons. Avoid "hitting below the belt" to reduce

escalation



6. If a couple cannot manage a perpetual problem ( which is a problem based on core personality differences or beliefs ), this can lead to emotional disengagement. Gottman encourages moving from gridlock to dialogue-

**Examples of gridlocked issues include- Susan wants to have children, but Jake does not. Erica wants to go to temple, but Steve is an atheist.


Gottman's research shows that these types of fundamental differences are rarely solved. However, if couples can learn to accept and adapt to these differences, they can grow.


How? By acknowledging, respecting and listening to one another.


Happy couples work on finding finding temporary compromises and thank each other for sharing alternate perspectives. By framing it differently, it becomes a way of knowing each other more intimately, even if they don't agree.




7. Creating shared meaning enhances a relationship by bringing partners closer together. Here are two ways of creating shared meaning:


1. Create relationship rituals you do on a regular basis

2. Work towards a common goal- can be anything big or small that you agree on.