What’s love got to do with it? Every couple starts out the same way: so in love. We are all fed visions of the “perfect relationship” and “happily ever after" from a young age. Maybe it holds true at first, but as time passes and people grow and change, suddenly our life is not so happily ever after.
Love, like every other emotion, is not a lasting or stable place, it is not a noun. It is not a person, place, or thing. It is an act. An act of kindness, of gentle intimacy, or it is a choice to move in the direction of love every single day. The couples I work with often hold the misconception that when we marry or chose to be with our partner for life that we have a full box of “love” that will never run out. When it is actually an empty box and our task it to choose to fill it over and over. That misconception can lead to lost love: “we live like roommates” or “we don’t talk or have fun any longer” situations. This can happen even with the best intentions. Love can slip away if we assume our love can never run out. Slowly over time life happens, we fall into a comfortable routine, maybe things get hard, maybe life isn’t working the way the fairy tale said.
According to the research from divorce statistics 45%-50% of first marriages end in divorce. Infidelity rates are between 30%-60% of all marriages. According to John Gottman, a relationship expert who spent over 40 years researching couples, there are two types of relationships, Masters and Disasters. So, what makes a Master relationship? A master is a couple who after six years are still happy in their relationship, they are slower to become upset in disagreements, and they had an environment of trust and intimacy.
Couples in Master Relationships Do These 3 Things to Keep Love Alive:
1. They Respond to Bids:
According to Gottman, a bid is any time a partner is requesting a response from you. It might be “hey look at this bird outside” or “wanna go to dinner.” This is a quick intentional connection that says, this person loves me and values what I see as important. In each of these moments, a spouse can “turn toward or turn away from the bid.” This has a profound effect on emotional connection or disconnection. Those in Master Relationships turn toward bids 87% of the time. That is 9 out of 10 times that they were meeting their spouses need. This allows couples to know each other’s worlds and be active in their dreams.
2. They Build Appreciation and Respect:
Individuals in a master relationship look for the good. They seek things to appreciate every single day. These couples are kind, generous, and gentle they have humor and connection that builds and maintains a friendship. These couples act with intention and don’t have time to point out “mistakes”. Most of the time our partner is trying to do the right thing even if it is poorly executed. Try to appreciate the intent.
3. They Address and Repair Regrettable Incidents:
Regrettable incidents are conflicts or emotional conversations that did not go well. Maybe you said something you regret, or maybe things got too emotional and you hurt each other’s feelings. These incidents happen with all couples, however, the masters were able to come back after and repair. They may say “hey, that was really rough can we talk?”. They listen with understanding, they take responsibility where they can, and they apologize. These actions build trust and communication.
Life happens, stress builds, we have children, a career, our parent’s age, or we have difficult families. All of these things naturally pull time away from romance and intimacy. Becoming a master couple is obtainable. It begins with nurturing your love every single day by choosing love, kindness, and generosity in our relationship.