Since the beginning of time, humans have tried to figure out the secret to eternal love.
Is it always remembering to bring a cup of tea into bed in the morning? Putting the toilet seat down? Asking how their day was? Diamonds?… Tiffany’s! … Cartier! Black star Frost Gorham Talk to me Harry Winston tell me all about it!
Not a chance, my friends. The secret to eternal love is actually very, very, simple.
Psychologist John Gottman believes he has cracked the code on what it takes to keep a couple together.
In 1986, Gottman set up his 'love lab', whereupon he started gathering research on couples in various stages of their marriages. 40 years, 3,000 couples, 200 academic articles, and 46 books later; Gottman and his wife Julie (also a psychologist) have been nicknamed the 'Einsteins of Love'.
And their formula for a long and loving relationship is simple: bring a kind and generous spirit to the relationship, and leave contempt, criticism, and hostility at the door.
After studying so many different relationships, the Gottmans believe there are but two categories of couples: 'masters' and 'disasters'. Masters stay together happily, Disasters either split up or remain in an unhappy marriage.
Gottman reckons he can predict with 98% accuracy whether or not a couple will stay together, based on the following indicators.
A.) Turn-towards bids
When watching the couples, Gottman notices a regular habit from one partner to another, called a 'bid'. Basically, it's a subtle cry for attention - and if the other partner responds positively,it indicates a happy and kind relationship. If the other partner flicks them off, well, it ain't looking good.
"For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird." (The Atlantic)
Lesson learnt? Show interest when they make a bid...and mean it. It will connect your interests.
B.) Positive Scanning
'Scanning' is apparently something we all do with our partner; only with some of us we're looking for good habits to commend, others are scanning for negative habits to criticise.
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
Lesson learnt? Generally be trying to find something good to say to your partner, not mean.