John and Julie Gottman are considered the foremost experts in couples therapy and being able to predict if a relationship will last, or not. Rather than discuss the signs of what they call a “disaster” I want to relay what they found to be a predominant precursor to what they term a “master” — a successful relationship.
In the simplest terms, the Gottmans said that couples who respond to each other’s “bids” for connection. Basically, being interested in what the other person is saying. The Gottman’s research showed that 87% of successful couples responded correctly to their partner’s bids. This begins with being a good listener and extends to selflessness. If you are busy scrolling through Facebook when your significant other asks you a question, do you put down your phone/tablet/laptop and turn toward your partner to engage, or do you not even flinch and answer half-heartedly?
Hint: the former is good, the latter is not. What do you do?
If you’re interested in learning more about the Gottmans, start with this article.
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Respect is one of the most important factors of a successful relationship. When you respect someone, it means you are being honest, it means you are being kind, and it means you are communicating effectively.
Respecting your partner means caring about their feelings and taking their opinions into consideration. Respect is speaking to the person you love with love, it means using tone and vocabulary that is rooted in the fact that at the end of the day — even if you are delivering a criticism — that you want to come out of the tete-a-tete a closer couple because you are engaging respectfully. Respect also means accepting your partner for who they are and not trying to change them, rather, helping them discover how you both can evolve together. When you find someone who you can respect to that degree, and receive that same level of respect in return, then you have found something truly special and with a higher likelihood of success.
Everyone wants to be in love, but how do you know when you’re in love and when you just can’t see straight because you want it so bad? Chemistry, lust, compatibility, all of that can confuse you. You can think, believe, swear to G-D, you’re in love, but how do you really know? No one does. Each time you think you fall in love it’s going to be more impactful than the time before and will make all your past loves pale in comparison. But then how do you know this is the one and that he or she isn’t just another stepping stone on the way to your true Beshert?
Crazy to think about right? There’s no answer. There’ no way to know. You have to take a leap of faith at some point, but try to do so in an educated manner. Try to know what you really need in a mate to live happily ever after. Hint: it’s not chiseled abs or big boobs. You need to find out how that person reacts under pressure and if that is on par with how you react. Does he or she close up and stop communicating? That is not conducive to a healthy, successful relationship. These are the types of things you need to find out before taking that leap, but please, do take that leap eventually because being in love is tremendous and amazing. It is also difficult, but so worth it. Do it. Go for it.