We are all (yes, including you) looking for love. Someone to cry to, cuddle with and perhaps drag with you on your shopping sprees! And have we found the one? Then we try with all the power we have at our fingertips to make it a successful relationship. Just think of the thousands of books full of relationship tips and you know we’re right.
Unfortunately, these books also contain a lot of misunderstandings and myths about the success of a relationship. According to psychologist Johhn Gottman, these are the biggest misunderstandings in the field of a successful relationship.
Gottman has been pondering the question for decades: what is the secret of successful relationships? For example, he developed a method with which he can predict with 90 percent certainty whether a newlywed couple will still be together in ten years’ time (respect!).
In his laboratory at the University of Washington, he observed hundreds of couples and piece by piece unraveled what is the key that ensures that one couple stays together happily and another couple breaks up. The moral of this story: this man knows what he’s talking about!
01. Give a little, take a little…
It seems logical that agreements are made in a relationship to create a sense of fairness and balance and that in a relationship you always give back what you get. Yet, according to Gottman, things are slightly different: according to him, making deals, agreements and quid pro quos actually create unhappy relationships.
So, stop keeping score. Build a strong relationship together by doing things for the other and always supporting each other without expecting anything in return.
02. Never avoid conflict
Do you believe that a relationship is only good if you discuss everything with each other and solve every problem? According to Gottman you have misunderstood. The biggest myth in relationships is that every issue must be resolved by talking about it for hours.
His research into successful relationships showed that happy couples actually left many things unresolved. You know how it is: those discussion points that resurface during every argument. It’s better to find ways to avoid having to express every annoyance.
The following example from Gottman makes this even clearer: take the relationship between Sam and Maggie (which you do not need to know – these are exemplary characters). When Sam is watching soccer on TV, Maggie goes for a run instead of arguing with him about the noise and the fact that he watches TV so much. When she comes back afterwards she feels much better. Conversely, when Sam is angry with Maggie, he goes into the backyard to play with their daughter.
So they have both found a way to avoid causing irritations towards the other. By finding a middle ground that you can both agree on, you can talk things out when you really need to, while avoiding clashes over all the unimportant things as much as possible.
03. Don’t expect too much from your relationship
A researcher from the University of North Carolina has investigated whether it is good for your relationship to not have so many expectations. Surprisingly, he discovered that the opposite is true: people who do this are more unhappy than people who do have expectations in their relationship.
The happiest were people who expected to be treated kindly, to be shown affection and compassion. Gottman’s advice is to continue to have expectations and if your loved one behaves antisocially, by ignoring you or only thinking about himself, you can feel free to say something about it. Expecting to be treated with respect is very reasonable.
The 3 biggest misunderstandings in successful relationships conclusion
Dr. Gottman’s research has shown that successful relationships differ from unsuccessful ones according to their relative strengths and weaknesses along parameters he describes as ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’.
We hope that the clarification of these misconceptions in relationships has proven beneficial. Incorporate this fresh perspective into your relationship daily, and observe it to flourish and grow into a successful relationship!