Of the couples who decide to spend their lives together, many fail to make it last. If you stop now and try to number how many couples you know that have had their marriage end in divorce, you will most likely have to write them down so you don’t lose count. It is a sad truth in today’s world.
But why do so many people get divorced? What makes or breaks a marriage?Psychologists John and Julie Gottman conducted a couples’ study to better understand the reason for the failure or success of their relationships.
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John and Julie created “The Love Lab,” where 130 couples spent the day performing everyday tasks such as eating, cooking and cleaning, while the social scientists analyzed their behaviors toward one another. At the end of the analysis, the researchers classified the couples into two groups: masters and disasters.
After six years the couples were called in again. The Gottmans found that the “masters” remained together happily, while the couples who belonged to the “disaster” group were no longer married, or remained together — but were miserable. This result led scientists to the conclusion that two specific qualities found in the “master” relationships were the key to their marital success: generosity and kindness.
Acts as simple as answering little everyday questions aggressively or generously affects the future and the quality of your relationship. Questions like, “Did you see that bird?” can be the cue for a wife to show more interest in her husband’s tastes. Acting with generosity and goodness creates a connection between the two. Harsh responses or acting disinterested when a spouse tries to share a meaningful experience with the other sends the message that everything is more important than the silly things his or her spouse appreciates.
The study found that there are two answers to choose from when it comes to issues with a spouse: We can choose to give generous responses that bring us together as a couple, or harsh responses that separate us from one another. The “masters” chose generous responses, creating a connection to their partner and showing interest in their emotional needs. Those who act with kindness and generosity create an environment of appreciation and gratitude for what the other does. However, the “disaster” couples build an environment based on dissatisfaction, always pointing out the mistakes of their spouse, forgetting to point out the good.
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Which group do you belong to?
If your wife goes to the supermarket and buys food, but forgets the toothpaste, do you get annoyed at her forgetfulness, or do you thank her for the food she bought? Your choice will tell what kind of relationship you are living.
Research has shown that in situations, such as a wife who is late for a dinner appointment, can be seen by her husband in two different ways: with generosity or selfishness. Focusing only on the fact that she is “always” making them late might cause the husband to be angry with his wife. Instead of being patient and understanding, he might make insensitive remarks and hurt his wife, who was only late because she was preparing a surprise for him.
John and Julie Gottman, after studying couples’ electrodes as they spoke, also found that “disaster” couples were physically affected by the criticism and hurtful remarks in their conversations with their partner. They found that the married couple was in the same physiological state as if they were at war or facing a leopard. The “masters,” on the other hand, were relaxed and tranquil as they conversed with one another.
Generosity and kindness can save your relationship. The study revealed that a healthy marriage requires daily doses of both generosity and kindness — not only on special occasions. So try to be gentle in situations where you are inclined to be angry. Avoid getting offended or upset before you know the whole story. And always, always, always concentrate on the positive actions of your spouse. Doing these things will help you and your spouse to become marriage “masters,” and have a long, loving and lasting relationship.
This article is a translation and adaption of the original article Ciência comprova: As relações que duram mais dependem de 2 coisas básicas”