Avoid Divorce with 5:1 Ratio

I’m enjoying some family time this week, so I wanted to re-publish a few posts with research that has really stuck with me and resonated with readers. This is one of my favorite tips:

If you had a social scientist on your shoulder for a day, how many positive interactions would he count between you and your spouse? That could include a good morning kiss, a playful pat, a compliment, a thank you, or a hug for washing the laundry. Now, think about how many negative interactions he would count, including rolling eyes or nonverbal communication, as well as complaints, snide remarks, cut downs or any other unhappy interaction.

During a 26-year study, psychologist and author John Gottman, PhD, discovered why married couples fail or succeed. It came down to this simple fact: Couples who maintain a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative interactions usually succeed. Those who fall below a one-to one-ratio usually fail.

Surprisingly, even if the relationship had a lot of other problems, this one fact still held true. So, even volatile couples, or couples that tend to avoid conflict can still succeed.

Dr. Gottman explained in his research that the one negative interaction is actually crucial to success, because conflict helps couples clear the air and work out grievances. It creates somewhat of a renewal when the conflict is worked out.

Make it a point to ask your partner about their day, tell them you love them on the phone and give them a hug or kiss when you part. All the little things will add up to a stronger marriage.

(Originally published here at Marriage Gems in May 2009.)

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8 responses to “Avoid Divorce with 5:1 Ratio

  1. This very ground breaking idea and may require some serious discipline on our part to implement, much like trying to get fit when you have been a couch potatoe for years. We are naturally negative or should I say we have been cultured to react negatively to people -even the one we love.
    maybe we should make it a part of our daily to-do list so that we don’t forget to positively connect with out spouse daily

    • It’s not easy, but I help my hubby out by reminding him when he’s over his quota of negative comments! It is harder to remember to stay positive. Hope it works for you!

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  5. Love women. No offence but crazy; yes. Married, great woman, but crazy. Go above and beyond this recommended tip, still drama. Try and try and try until u cant try, then try some more. Have faith in your god and pray eye to eye will evetually be there. Good luck to all that try and try!

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