Beyond Valentine’s Day: The ‘Magic Ratio’ of Enduring Relationships

Today is Valentine’s Day, and you likely have big plans with your partner this evening. (If not, it’s probably time to make some!) If either of you will be on shift, you should still get together and agree to celebrate another day.

As you spoil and pamper your loved one, though, consider this: How do you treat them the other 364 days of the year?

Valentine’s Day Truth Bomb

Grand gestures on February 14 can’t make up negative or apathetic treatment on other days. As Dr. Rachelle Zemlok, strategic wellness director for Lexipol, mentions in the video, studies have shown it takes five positive interactions for a couple to recover from one negative one. Research by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Robert Levenson revealed a fundamental truth about successful relationships: the “magic ratio” of five to one. Healthy couples exhibited five positive exchanges for every negative one.

Negative interactions are relatively easy to recognize because they can have such a profound impact on us. The Gottman Institute identifies the most harmful of these interactions as the “Four Horsemen:” criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. But what are the behaviors that counter the negative effects of the negative ones?

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Eight Positive Interactions

Couples who thrive in their relationships handle conflict differently from those whose relationships falter and fail. Successful couples not only initiate conflict more gently but also make repairs and adjustments that foster positivity in their relationship. Here are some key interactions stable couples frequently employ to nurture positivity and closeness.

Be Interested: Showing genuine interest when your partner expresses concerns or complaints is crucial. Active listening, asking open-ended questions and showing interest through verbal or nonverbal cues (nodding, maintaining eye contact) can contribute to a sense of caring and understanding.

Express Affection: It’s important to express affection for your partner both during and outside of conflict. Physical and verbal displays of affection reduce stress and tension, fostering a sense of closeness and support between partners.

Demonstrate They Matter: You can show your partner that they matter through small acts of service and consideration, both of which strengthen your couple bond. Prioritizing your partner’s interests and treating them with kindness fills a reservoir of positivity that can help make disagreements less disagreeable and make up for occasional careless or thoughtless acts.

Intentional Appreciation: Expressing appreciation for your partner’s positive traits and past experiences together can reinforce a positive sense of well-being within any relationship. Verbal compliments and expressions of gratitude further strengthen the bond between partners.

Find Opportunities for Agreement: Seeking opportunities for agreement during conflicts — empathizing with your partner’s perspective — is an essential component of effective conflict resolution. Validating your partner’s viewpoint, even if you disagree with it, shows respect and fosters mutual understanding.

Empathize and Apologize: Successful couples are slow to accuse and quick to apologize. When both partners are able to put themselves into their partner’s shoes, see things from the other side, and express regret for negative thoughts and deeds, they’re more likely to have an enduring, loving relationship.

Accept Your Partner’s Perspective: No couple is ever in complete agreement on every topic. When disagreements persist, simply acknowledging that you understand and can see your partner’s point of view—even if you don’t agree with it completely— this can go a long way toward resolving conflict.

Make Jokes: Incorporating humor and playfulness into any relationship can help resolve tension and bring couples closer together. However, it’s essential to maintain respect and appreciation for your partner while engaging in playful banter. There can be a fine line between playful teasing and mean-spiritedness!

On Valentine’s Day — and on every day — treating your partner with love and respect is crucial to ensuring a long-lasting relationship. Mastering these positive interactions can significantly enhance the quality of a relationship and contribute to its longevity. By prioritizing empathy, affection, and mutual respect, couples can navigate conflicts more effectively and cultivate a deeper connection with each other.

Lexipol Team

Lexipol provides public safety and local government with solutions that combine the impact of information with the power of technology. We serve more than 2 million first responders and local government officials with policies, training, wellness resources, grant assistance, and news and analysis.

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