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Psychologists Find 5 Keys To A Lasting Relationship (That Are Seldom Mentioned)

Psychologists Find 5 Keys To A Lasting Relationship (That Are Seldom Mentioned)

Countless articles have been written about how to have a successful, long-lasting relationship or marriage, but none seem to be as simple and powerful as Dr. John Gottman’s ideas on what makes love last.

You see, many people cite “Irreconcilable differences” as the reason for broken relationships or divorce, but the idea that major differences in opinion end long-term relationships is actually a myth.

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According to Gottman, a leading researcher and psychologist who has spent the past 40 years researching what makes love work, it’s not a difference of opinion that ends relationships; it’s the inability to communicate differing opinions or accept them as equally valid. Essentially, relationships live and die not by the sword, but by the quality of communication.

Moreover, because having healthy relationships means so much to many of us, we often feel other people judge us based on our choice of partner. As a result, our sense of worthiness gets attached to who and how our partner is. We project what we want our partner to be onto who they are, and get frustrated and even dismissive when they don’t live up to our projections.

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If you are in a relationship and would like to know how you can make it strong and long-lasting, or you simply want to know what the chances of your relationship remaining intact over time are, there are five key points Dr. Gottman says you should look out for. These points will make any relationship more meaningful and long-lasting.

Gottman’s ideas for a lasting relationship should be common knowledge, but – unfortunately – they are seldom mentioned.

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1. You begin conversations as gently and kindly as you would with an esteemed coworker.

This is especially true when it comes to sensitive conversations. You don’t begin interactions with sarcasm, contempt, anger, blame, criticism, and the like because doing so causes defenses to rise and the ability to communicate dissolves. Instead, you are kind and gentle always because you believe your partner is a true equal, as opposed to someone who is “beneath you.” When you believe someone is your true “equal,” you regard them as well as you would want them to regard you.

2. You complain, but you don’t criticize.

Getting upset and complaining about things like the dishes not being done or the toilet seat being left up again is normal and almost inevitable in a healthy relationship. But, as soon as the moaning and complaining shifts from “I’m really angry with you for not doing the dishes” to “You’re stupid/lazy/disgusting/irresponsible for letting this happen,” the relationship is headed for real trouble.

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3. You are neither contemptuous to one another nor to other people.

Sadly, bullying tactics used in middle school, like name-calling, sneering, and mocking, are common in intimate relationships. But, relationships that employ these tactics don’t last. If you and your partner are not the type of people who would resort to that type of mentality to begin with, that is a good sign. It means you fight clean, and that will help your relationship weather many storms and last.

4. You are willing to absorb the blame so as to quell problems or bridge rifts.

You know it takes two to tango, and it takes two parties to create a problem. So, you are not always in defensive mode or determined to show your partner how and why they are wrong. You approach issues with “here’s how I think we got into this problem, and here’s how I’d like us to get out of it.”

5. You don’t “stonewall,” “tune out,” or ignore each other.

“Stonewalling” or “tuning out” your partner, particularly during rough patches in the relationship, is a sure way to hurt the relationship. Interestingly, Dr. Gottman’s research has shown that in 85% of marriages, men are the ones who “stonewall” their partners. Women are more capable of soothing themselves in stressful situations and so they are less standoffish or indignant about confrontation. Men — watch out for that.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on October 17, 2019

How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

How to Spend More Quality Time with Your Partner

You see your partner every single day. They are the first person you talk to in the morning and the last person you kiss goodnight.

But does seeing each other day in and day out equal a healthy relationship? Not necessarily.

Spending quality time with your partner is the best way to ensure your relationship stays healthy and strong. This means going above and beyond sitting together while you watch Netflix or going out for the occasional dinner. You deserve more from your relationship – and so does your spouse!

What does quality time mean? It means spending time with your spouse without interruption. It’s a chance for you to come together and talk. Communication will build emotional intimacy and trust.

Quality time is also about expressing love in a physical way. Not sex, necessarily (but that’s great, too!) but through hand-holding, cuddling, caressing, and tickling. Studies show that these displays of affection will boost partner satisfaction.[1]

So how do you spend quality time with your partner? Here are 13 relationship tips on making the most out of your time with your partner.

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1. Recognize the Signs

If you want a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to recognize the signs that you need to spend more quality time together.

Some telltale signs include:

  • You’re always on your phones.
  • You value friendships or hobbies over quality time with your spouse.
  • You aren’t together during important events.
  • You are arguing more often or lack connection.
  • You don’t make plans or date nights.
  • You’re not happy.

If you are experiencing any of these relationship symptoms, know that quality time together can reverse the negative effects of the signs above.

2. Try New Things Together

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument or speak another language? How about skydive or ballroom dance?

Instead of viewing these as solo hobbies and interests, why not involve your partner?

Trying new activities together builds healthy relationships because it encourages spouses to rely on one another for emotional and physical support.

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Shared hobbies also promote marital friendship, and the Journal of Happiness Studies found that marital satisfaction was twice as high for couples who viewed each other as best friends.[2]

3. Schedule in Tech-Free Time

Your phone is a great way to listen to music, watch videos, and keep up-to-date with friends and family. But is your phone good for your relationship?

Many couples phone snub, or ‘phub’, one another. Studies show that phubbing can lower relationship satisfaction and increase one’s chances of depression.[3]

Reduce those chances by removing distractions when spending quality time together and showing your partner they have your full attention.

4. Hit the Gym as a Couple

One way you can spend more time together as a couple is by becoming workout partners. Studies show that couples are more likely to stay with their exercise routine if they work out together.[4] Couples also work out harder than they would solo. One study found that 95 percent of couples who work out together maintained weight loss compares to the 66 percent of singles who did.[5]

Join a gym, do at-home couples’ workouts, try couples yoga, hit the hiking trails, or get your bikes out. No matter which way you choose to exercise, these healthy activities can promote a healthy relationship.

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5. Cook Meals Together

Pop open a bottle of wine or put some romantic music on while you get busy – in the kitchen, of course!

One of the best relationship tips for spending quality time together when you both have busy schedules is to cook meals together.[6]

Spice things up and try and prepare a four-course meal or a fancy French dish together. Not only is this a fun way to spend your time together, but it also promotes teamwork.

If all goes well, you’ll have a romantic date night meal at home that you prepared with your four hands. And if the food didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped, you are guaranteed to have a laugh and create new memories together.

6. Have a Regular Date Night

Couples experience a greater sense of happiness and less stress when they are spending quality time together.[7] One of the biggest relationship tips for a healthy partnership is to include a date night in your weekly routine.

The National Marriage Project found that having a weekly date night can make your relationship seem more exciting and helps prevent relationship boredom.[8] It also lowers the probability of divorce, improves your sex life, and increases healthy communication.

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Some great ideas for what to do on your date night include:

  • Have a movie marathon – Gather up your favorite flicks and cuddle up on the couch.
  • Play games together – Cards, board games, video games, and other creative outlets are a fun way to spend quality time together.
  • Recreate your first date – Go back to that restaurant and order the same meal you did when you first got together. You can spice up your evening by pretending you’re strangers meeting for the first time and see how sexy the night gets.
  • Plan a weekend getaway – There’s nothing better than traveling with the one you love.
  • Dinner and a movie – A classic!
  • Try a new restaurant – Make it your mission to rate and try all of the Mexican restaurants/Irish pubs/Italian trattorias in your area.
  • Have a long sex session – Intimacy promotes the release of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for a myriad of great feelings.[9]

Here’re even more date night ideas for your reference: 50 Unique and Really Fun Date Ideas for Couples

Final Thoughts

The benefits of spending quality time together are endless. Here are just some of the ways it can contribute to a healthy relationship:

  • Improves emotional and physical intimacy
  • Lowers divorce rates
  • Improves communication
  • Reduces marital boredom
  • Bonds couples closer
  • Improves friendship
  • Boosts health
  • Reduces stress

These are all excellent reasons to start making date night a regular part of your week.

It’s easy to have a healthy relationship when you set aside dedicated time to share with your spouse. Try new things together, make your spouse your workout buddy, and look for innovative ways to be close and connected.

These relationship tips will bring great benefits to your marriage.

Featured photo credit: Allen Taylor via unsplash.com

Reference

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