How to make the relationship last

It takes two to tango. Researcher John Gottman agrees, who studied hundreds of couples and their communication patterns. According to him, there are four warning signs to watch out for. Do you recognize yourself or your partner? Don’t worry, we share the tips you need to turn the relationship onto the right path again.

1. You criticize each other

When a situation occurs where you’re disappointed, it’s always better to complain than criticize each other. Complaining is more about the situation and criticism is an attack on your partner’s character. Complaint: “I was scared when you were running late and didn’t call me. I thought we had agreed that we would do that for each other.” Criticism: “You never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. You’re just selfish. You never think of me!”

What can you do instead?
Dr. Gottman advises couples to stick to a very simple formula: When X (event that happened), I felt X (actual feeling word) and I need X (response). So, for example, “When you were running late and didn’t call me, I felt scared, and I need to know where you are to feel safe.”

2. You express contempt

According to Gottman, contempt is the clearest indicator that your relationship is going down the drain. Contempt: “It’s so typical of you, never suggesting any fun stuff to do, you have no imagination.”

What can you do instead?

Try to identify your needs and reformulate them to your wishes. For example, say: “I would love to do more fun things together,  like when you took me to that restaurant, can’t we do that again soon?”

3. You get defensive towards each other

In a discussion or conflict, you immediately get defensive and/or pledge your partner. Defense: “You’re not any better yourself!”

What can you do instead?

Try listening to what your partner actually says. If you don’t understand, ask open questions so you show that you are curious and want to know. It also applies to your relationships with friends and colleagues.

4. You do the stonewalling

In the middle of an ongoing discussion or conflict, you suddenly turn off and avoid the topic of conversation. Stonewalling: You choose to “hum” but have already “zoomed out” or suddenly say “end of discussion” and leave the room.

What can you do instead?

Take a break! According to Gottman, a break of at least 20 minutes is necessary to make the discussion constructive. When you’re both calm, try again.

Good luck with your relationships!

Would you like to know more about the study by Gottman, click here

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