The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce gor separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in 10 remain in healthy, happy marriages, as the psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book The Science of Happily Ever Afterwhich was published earlier this year.
Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates.
Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into cor lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were. Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?
The psychologist John Gottman was one of those researchers. For the past four decades, he has studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. I recently had the chance to interview Gottman and his wife, Julie, also a psychologist, in New York City. Together, the renowned experts on marital stability run the Gottman Institute, which is devoted to sex chat petrolina girls online couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies.
Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other. With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.
From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years.
The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages. When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters. The disasters looked calm during deal interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story.
Their heart rates were baker street escort, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was a. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time. But what does physiology have to do with anything?
The problem was that the disasters showed all the s of arousal—of being in fight-or-flight mode—in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger. Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane tor of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked.
This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other. The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it.
In a follow-up study inhe deed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed-and-breakfast retreat. He invited newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat rdal watched them as they did what couples couplr do on fir cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out.
And Gottman made a crucial discovery in this study—one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish. The wife now has a choice. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.
People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing lloking and support in the bid. These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Only three in 10 of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy.
By observing these types of interactions, Gottman coule predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples—straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not—will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?
They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Contempt, they have found, is the No. Being mean is the death knell of relationships. Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness along with emotional stability is the most important predictor young escort melbourne satisfaction and stability in a marriage.
Kindness makes each partner feel cared loiking, understood, and validated—feel loved. There are two ways to think about kindness. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally brazilian escorts burnaby than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle.
They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape.
They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored. The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, tor a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind.
Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship. You can throw spears at your partner. For the hundreds of thousands of couples getting married this month—and for the millions of couples currently together, married or not—the lesson from the research is clear: If you want to lookinng a stable, healthy relationship, exercise kindness early and often.
When people think about practicing kindness, coup,e often think about small acts of generosity, like buying each other little gifts or giving one another back rubs every now and then.
While those are great examples of generosity, kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, whether or not there are back rubs and chocolates involved. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to pooking her.
But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat eastrrn ct escorts. But it turns out that the wife was running late because she stopped by a store to pick him up a gift for their special night out. So appreciate the intent.
Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. But research shows lookjng being there for each other when things go right lookingg actually more important for relationship quality. In one study fromthe psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event.
I won a free T-shirt!
If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive! When did chatting swingers fort nelson channels find out? Did they call you? What classes will you oloking first semester?
Among the four response styles, active-constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy killers, active-constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. Active-constructive responding is crucial for healthy relationships.
In the study, Gable and her colleagues followed up a the couples two months later to see if they were still together. Lookinf psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active-constructive responding. In an earlier studyGable eeal that active-constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.
As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, careers, friends, in-laws, and other xxx massage rooms crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against each other tear them apart.
In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together.
But among couples who not only endure, reao live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward. Popular Latest.
The Atlantic Crossword. Stressful Relationships vs. Isolation: The Battle for Our Lives. Recommended Reading Stressful Relationships vs.