Following last week’s blog on the 2 keys to lasting relationships.
Here are 11 tips that cultivate an environment of KINDNESS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENT between couples. The longevity elixir for relationships!
- Pepper your relationship with lots of ‘turn towards bids’. Gottman found that long staying couples had more turn towards bids. Here is an example – when their partner makes a comment about something that on the surface isn’t that significant – like ‘hey look at that colourful little bird on the feeder.’ It suggests that what has been experienced or observed is important to the individual, so its therefore important to get that statement acknowledged by their partner.This can be done via their partner looking up from their present activity and saying ‘ahh’ or any other small comment that just acknowledges and appreciates their words.
- Active constructive responses. One step better than this was discovered by researcher Shelley Gable and her colleagues. They observed that how partners respond to good news from their loved ones is an indicator of a relationship will last or not.For example if a husband came home and said he had been offered a promotion if his wife was busy reading she would disengage from the book and make a comment like ‘well done;’ but the engagement would carry on. The wife might continue the dialogue and ask what were the first steps he needed to take.Couples who did lots of active, constructive responding like this were shown to have better relationship quality and increased intimacy.
- Take regular time out to catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives. A busy daily routine can sabotage engagement and closeness so plan in time together – coffee breaks, date nights, a walk, turning the TV off – anything that just gives you opportunity to talk.
- Pay interest in what is happening in your partner’s life. John Gottman calls this a ‘love map’ and said expressed how important it was to get to know who your partner’s friends are and what is happening in their lives outside of your relationship and the time you spend with them. Another important reason for catch up time.
- Be generous about your partner’s intentions. Don’t sweat the small stuff – so if your partner is late home, don’t sit there seething and winding yourself up into a lather but generate lots of reasons why this might have happened. Couples who stay together show understanding rather than jumping to a negative conclusion and thinking badly of their partner.
- Let go of the need to be right. A need to have the upper hand all the time and the last word can force couples to have petty arguments so try and let this go to reduce any chances of conflict or pettiness.
- Not taking every action you don’t like personally. So if your partner forgets to bring home the milk you asked them to pick up – don’t think they have done it to make you cross or not listened to you. They simply could have plain forgot, we are all human!
- Regular random acts of kindness. Just a small act of kindness can mean so much and make your partner feel loved, wanted and secure. A loving little note left somewhere unexpected, putting some food together and driving to a special place to watch the sun go down. Making a day special for no particular reason other than you love them and are celebrating your togetherness.
- Keep kindness at the fore front, even during an argument. Gottman’s research showed that it isn’t about not arguing but how you argue that is key to a successful, long term relationship. Showing kindness is about making an upset/negative complaint specific – such as ‘Hey, when you didn’t help me out with the shopping when I didn’t feel so good yesterday.’ Rather than slinging present and past insults that attack the partners personality with ‘ you never bother about me, its all about you, you did the same last month.’Heavy criticism and blowing a small issue out of proportion can feel like an attack and can be permanently damaging to relationship especially if this continues to happen.
- Remember to revisit what you first loved about your partner, what you are grateful for and why you have them in your life– even when the going is tough!
- Make your relationship with yourself important. The most important relationship you can ever have is with your self. If you are kind to yourself you will reflect that to other relationships. Our primary relationships are the melting pot for personal growth – so if you find negative emotions being triggered regularly make an effort sort the patterns out so you can continue to grow and evolve with your partner.