Love feels so good when it starts, it’s hard to imagine feeling any other way.
But if your loved one compliments you twice, and complains about you once, guess what sticks in your mind?
Humans naturally focus on what’s wrong. It’s called the negativity bias. Locking our attention onto pain can shift our mindset from thinking the best about our partner, to thinking the worst.
The happiest couples have habits and conversation patterns that help keep their relationship strong, healthy and positive. They behave in ways that rise above the negativity bias. This isn’t just opinion. Here are 5 facts about happy, lasting love that the leading relationship researchers have discovered. They can help any couple with an open mind feel secure in love too:
1) Magic Ratio – 5 to 1
Staying friendly — especially when you disagree — is key to long-term love. Every relationship has conflict. We can’t control that. But what we can control is how we react.
When positive responses during conflict outnumber hurtful ones 5 to 1, most couples will remain stable and happy. Small gestures count. Saying, “this is hard,” and meeting your partner’s eye scores a big plus for the positive during conflict. The magic ratio is a breakthrough finding from the love lab of Dr. Gottman, who studied over 3,000 couples since the 1970s.
2) Secrets to Good Sex
Hot sex is fun. But love cannot last on great sex alone.
Pop culture has it backwards; we don’t need to start out with a hot partner to be happy. The secret to great lifelong sex is emotional connection.
We need to feel emotionally close first. That’s what makes sparks fly any time, any age.
Source: Excerpt from the book Love Sense, by Dr Sue Johnson
3) Celebrate the Good Times
A great way to connect is to celebrate your partner’s success. Rejoicing in each other’s triumphs is like superfood for a strong, deep relationship. Cheering your partner when things go well has even stronger positive impact than what you do when things are bad. Sharing in another’s good times, more than pain, predicts greater relationship satisfaction, happiness together, and less conflict, according to a number of studies.
4) It Matters That You ARE There
At the first sign of trouble, it’s natural to seek out and rid ‘the bad’ from your relationship. Too often, we make our partner the enemy, when the problem is a pattern of disconnection on both ends.
A quick way to change course is to use the acronym ARE, as in “ARE you there for me?” or another cue you like best. ARE stands for being
These three modes of presence are very powerful to restore connection. When you ARE present, you become a force for calm instead of upset to each other. This mindset helps you navigate your differences safely. Taking the same side against a problem helps to restore deep security and safety in your relationship.
5) Make a Love Map
Your intimate knowledge of your partner’s emotional life is a powerful love potion. Do you know what music your partner likes best now? What was the high point of the week? Where would your partner go on a dream getaway? Keep updating your list of friendly facts about your loved one.
That’s a love map.
The quality of your friendship — based on your love map — is by 70% the strongest factor in your satisfaction with the sex, romance, and passion in your marriage. That news is backed by research.
Love Grows in Ways We Can Study and Nurture
These findings come from love labs and rigorous research. But there’s no magic formula for making love last.
As you and your partner go through life, your relationship will change as you do. Growing older does not have to mean that you grow apart. Love and sexual attraction can deepen over time — especially for couples who continue to be fully present to each other, and keep learning about each other.
When you feel safe, known, and important to someone else, your love can remain vibrant and sweet for as long as you’re together.