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Make Positivity A Priority In Your Relationship

What tends to make couples unhappy isnt the negativity expressed in their day-to-day marriage, but a lack of positive exchanges.

Dr. John Gottman has done extensive research on successful marriages and has found that couples need twenty positive interactions to every negative one. Dr. Gottman describes this delicate balance between positive and negative as an emotional bank account where the positive interactions deposit good feelings into the account and the negative interactions make withdrawals. If there isnt much of a reservoir of positive sentiments in the tank, negativity will begin to have a greater impact on how we feel.

When otherwise happy couples are in the middle of conflict, they need at least five positive interactions to every one. Even when a coupleargues, its important tonot harmthe other person. However, in the heat of a disagreement, this is easier said than done. In the midst of difficulty,couples can often forget that they onceliked the other person. They go straight into fight mode and canbe mean and condensing. Needless to say, this is no good. People will disagreebut they must work hard to communicate love and respect for the other partner.

When I see couples in my office, they often want to focus on the negative aspects of their relationship, in an effort to fix the marriage. I prefer to help couples regain positivity by asking them to build up to the 20-1 ratio of positive vs. negative interactions. After three or four sessions, during which the couple has worked hard to focus on whats good and positive about the another, they are more likely tosee their problems in a different light: they talk differently to each other, they listen more attentively, they communicate feelings more openly.

Work on being more positive in your relationship and see what happens.

Christianne Judy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing incouplestherapy.Shemaintains a private practice in O'Fallon, IL withnine other practitioners at Counseling Associates of Southern Illinois. Judy isa Certified Gottman Therapist andagraduateof the Washington University George Warren Brown School of Social Work.