Couples happiness researcher and psychotherapist Dr. John Gottman has developed what he believes is the secret to the success of your relationship, and he calls it, ‘The Gottman Ratio.’ In this article, we will look at how you and your partner can use this scientifically based information to help improve a failing relationship or even help a good relationship get even better.
How “The Gottman Ratio” Can Predict The Success Of Your Relationship
By the time you read this article, you will find ‘The Gottman Ratio’ to be a simple to understand relationship rule, but may find that it is harder to put into practice. Easier said than done, you might say, but it is definitely valuable information that can help you and your partner to feel much happier in your relationship and much less likely to break up.
What is ‘The Gottman Ratio’ and how it can it predict the success of your relationship
How many times did you feel positive about your partner or your relationship today? How many times did you feel negatively about your partner or your relationship today? The difference between the two of these is what Dr. Gottman is referring to as ‘The Gottman Ratio.’ It’s not only about balancing the positive and negative, it’s about outweighing the negatives with five times more positives.
Dr. Gottman says that the ideal, happy, and successful relationships produce five times more positive interactions than negatives. If you look at your relationship, this can be through positive actions that your partner makes toward you, or positive, kind, supportive, and loving words that they give you. And vice versa. It takes two to make ‘The Gottman Ratio’ successful for your relationship.
How you can apply ‘The Gottman Ratio’ in your relationship
Did you nag your partner about something that you dislike about their appearance or behavior today? That one negative thing can stick with them not only today, but in the future when they think about you, they may hear your negative tone, see your hands on your hips or picture you with your arms crossed in front of your chest. Do you want that to be the lasting image of yourself in your partner’s mind? No, of course not.
Think about what you’ve said or done today when you interact with your spouse or your partner. Were you smiling and expressing your love and appreciation? If not, you now need to give your partner five separate positive interactions to outweigh the impact of that one negative interaction that you had.
Researchers at the University of Washington tested ‘The Gottman Ratio’ and were able to predict divorce with an 83% accuracy based almost exclusively on the amount of positive emotion that was expressed during a conflict. Positive emotions tended to de-escalate any fight that the couple had rather than making it worse. Couples who used humor to change the negative mood of an interaction rather than respond with anger to their partner were more likely to have happy partnerships.
Gottman has also done research into the factors that can be identified in a marriage that can actually predict whether or not a couple will get divorced in the future.
You can read more about that in our article ‘Psychologist Reveals These 4 Behaviors Are The Biggest Predictors of Divorce.’
Strategies to use in your relationship
‘If you want people to understand that you value their contributions and that they are important, the recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual.’ – Tom Rath
You have an emotional bucket that holds water. If your own bucket is empty, you can’t help someone else to fill their emotional bucket if theirs is also empty. And that’s what often happens when your relationship has become negative, resentful, and loveless.
First, you must fill your own bucket first. Do things that bring you joy and happiness. Surround yourself with positive, supportive, happy people and avoid those who only complain about things. Eat good, healthy food, move your body, and look at the beauty of the world around you. Now that your bucket is full, you can help others to put marbles in their bucket. You do this by being supportive, kind, and loving to them. Speak only positive, encouraging words. Show them how much they are valued, and find something that you can do that will be meaningful to them.
As a reminder of how much positive interaction to give your partner, place 5 coins, marbles, or pebbles in your left pocket and as you do supportive things for the other person, you move them to your right pocket. Once the marbles are in your right pocket, check your own emotional bucket and move the marbles back to your left pocket and repeat the process.’
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