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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 December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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