The Three R's of Relationship Satisfaction

Posted On: Thursday, March 31, 2016

Every marriage or long-term relationship has its twists and turns, highs and lows, struggles and triumphs. Relationships are fluid because people are fluid and ever changing.

Relationship experts John Gottman and Sue Johnson have been studying couples for decades to learn more about couples who are enjoying secure, satisfying relationships. What do they do differently than those who are not? Basically it comes down to three important things -- resilience, respect, and responsiveness.

Showing respect is one of the most powerful, loving things a couple can do in their marriage. Remember the childhood expression "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me." Well, that's a myth. Words hurt as much as actions; and we can't take them back once we say them. They sort of linger in the air and create huge walls built of anger and resentment. Being spiteful, hurtful, sarcastic, rude, or mean can do a great deal of damage. Couples who have created a "culture of appreciation" for one another are able to understand each other on a much deeper level. This type of intimacy precludes the need to be disrespectful.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines resilience as the ability to "spring back" or to quickly recover from difficulty. Studies suggest that those who demonstrate resilience are more positive about their relationship and are able to see the bigger picture. Arguments and disagreements are seen as minor glitches rather than huge dramatic events or crises. For these couples, arguments are quickly resolved and most importantly couples do not turn away from each other. They turn towards each other to resolve conflict. Gottman suggests that those who are able to laugh and be light with one another also weather arguments more positively. As the saying goes, sometimes humor is the best medicine.

Johnson's work suggests that behaviors are hinged on emotional injury. Couples are able to de-escalate arguments when they are able to communicate on an emotional level that brings them closer to one another. When couples are able to understand his or her partner's feelings, they are able to be more responsive to their needs. In this way, the need to become defensive or turn away disappears. Couples are able to communicate in a way that suggests, "You matter to me. I value you. You are important to me."

Dr. Laura Richter is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include: surviving infidelity, improving communication, beginning again after divorce and effective co-parenting after divorce. She is also a trained mediator, qualified parenting coordinator and collaborative law mental health professional. For more information, please call or text us today at 561 715-6404.