01 Sep 5 proven ways to improve your relationships
Happiness is very much about who we spend our time with.
Relationships are key to health, happiness and wellbeing.
But as we all know, relationships can be hard; and happiness, then, can suffer.
So if you’re having problems with any of your relationships then you really should check out these 5 research backed suggestions …
via Eric Barker
Every relationship has problems. And they lead to arguments — which often don’t go anywhere and just make things worse.
One solution is couples therapy. It’s a very good solution, especially if you want to solve things by getting divorced.
In fact, we asked the people who participated in our research if they were getting therapy, and we discovered that there was a reasonably high correlation between getting therapy and getting a divorce. It was more likely that couples would get a divorce if they had therapy than if they had no therapy. This was especially true for individual therapy, but it was also true of couple therapy.
That’s John Gottman, the data driven cupid of academia. He’s renowned as the relationship expert who can listen to a couple talk for just a few minutes and predict whether they’ll split up with an eerie 90+% degree of accuracy.
For decades he’s brought couples into his lab, studied how they interacted and followed up to see whether that worked. And he’s learned a lot. John’s book is The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples.
All couples have arguments. There is no magic, conflict-free relationship. (Sorry.) So how do you fight right? That’s what we’re gonna learn. Where should we start?
How about at the beginning? Because as it turns out, beginnings are critical…
Start Discussions Gently
As you may have suspected, starting a conversation with “YOU MORON!” is never a good idea.
Seriously, if you don’t want your partner to get defensive and angry then, quite simply, don’t begin a discussion in a way that would make any person defensive and angry.
Sounds obvious but we all do it. And women do it a lot more than men. (Don’t worry; we’ll get to the mistakes men make soon enough.)
The woman’s role here is usually critical, as in heterosexual relationships (in most Western culture) it is the woman who brings up the issues 80% of the time, according to research by Philip and Carolyn Cowan at Berkeley. Again, the findings suggest that starting with attack is less likely to result in nondefensive or empathic listening.
The critical distinction here is between “complaining” and “criticizing.”
Complaining about a specific problem or behavior is totally okay. (“When you’re late, it makes me feel like I’m not important to you.”) But criticizing is when you present the issue as a defect in your partner. (“You’re just so selfish!”)
Telling someone you don’t like their behavior is appropriate and necessary. Accusing them of being a demonspawn succubus forged from an unholy pact in the darkest pits of the netherworld is, shall we say, less-than-constructive.
Happy couples presented issues as joint problems, and specific to one situation. Unhappy couples, on the other hand, presented issues as if they were symptoms of global defects in the partner’s personality.
But some people will respond, “You don’t understand. They always make this mistake and I’m just trying to fix them.”
Overruled, counselor. You’re still doing it, but with a shinier rationalization. Trying to “fix” your partner means you see them as defective. This is the perspective that couples on their way to Splitsville take.
Partners in unhappy relationships saw it as their responsibility to help their partners become better people. They acted as if they believed that the problem in relationships is that we pair with people who aren’t as perfect as we are. Then it becomes our responsibility to point out to our partners how they can become better human beings. They need us to point out their mistakes. We expect them to be grateful to us for our great wisdom. In miserable relationships our habit of mind is to focus on our own irritability and disappointment, and to explain to our partners how they are responsible for these miserable feelings we have.
Don’t raise issues in a way that could be summed up as “Everything would be wonderful if you just get your act together and do exactly as I tell you because you’re the screw-up and I’m the long-suffering victim here.”
Focus on the problem, not the person. And be gentle. Even if you are right, being self-righteous doesn’t help.
(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)
Okay, so you’ve got your head on straight about how to approach things. But your head isn’t the only part of you that’s important here. Your body plays a big part…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE