What research has to say about your relationship
There's no single "formula" to a perfect relationship. However, we've studied an awful lot about what successful couples do. Everyone's relationships are a bit different, but we can take away a lot from what we know works.
While a perfect relationship might be beyond the grasp of science, studies on what makes a relationship successful. Over the years, these studies have come up with some trends that help us better understand what sets a long lasting relationship apart from one that ends quickly. A lot of this is common sense, but that doesn't mean we don't need the occasional reminder.
1. Positivity Matters
It's not surprising that the more positive a person is, the more likely they'll be happy in their relationships. What's interesting is just how much it matters.
In a study from the University of Chicago, researchers found that when a husband has a high level of positivity, there's less conflict in his relationship. Likewise, the way partners respond to each other's good news matters too. In a study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that the way couples react to each other's good news—either with excitement, pride, or indifference—is crucial in forming a strong bond. The New York Times breaks down the research like so.
In the laboratory as in life, constructive support is generally better for a relationship than detachment, as many people have learned the hard way. Couples who lace their arguments with sarcasm and mean jabs, studies find, are usually headed for a split. But in their analysis of response styles, the researchers found that it was the partners' reactions to their loved ones' victories, small and large, that most strongly predicted the strength of the relationships. Four of the couples had broken up after two months, and the women in these pairs rated their partners' usual response to good news as particularly uninspiring.
Of course, positive thoughts are great for more than just your relationships and you don't need to prescribe to over-the-top positivity either. Just make sure you show some happiness when your partner succeeds
2. Communicate Correctly
Unsurprisingly, studies show that conflicts about money and poor communication lead to unhappy couples more than almost anything else. Unfortunately, dealing with these types of problems is difficult.
We've talked about proper communication a lot before because these issues are worth a post all for themselves. We won't get into too much detail here, but here are the basics.
Good communication takes effort, it's hard, and it doesn't always go smoothly. But when you let small things fester and don't communicate, problems arise. Studies show that it's usually money that causes this rift, but every relationship has its own set of issues that need to get worked through.
3. Maintain Strong Friendships Outside Your Relationship
When you're in a relationship, it's often pretty easy to rely on each other for everything. That's great, but it's important to maintain friendships outside of that. Various surveys show that happy couples maintain friendships and hobbies outside the relationship.
You don't want to spend all your time with one person, and you want other people to talk with so you don't rely on your partner for everything.
Dr. Coontz thinks all this togetherness is not necessarily good for couples. The way to strengthen a marriage, she argues, is to put fewer emotional demands on spouses. This doesn't mean losing emotional intimacy with your husband or wife. It just means that married couples have a lot to gain by fostering their relationships with family members and friends. The happiest couples, she says, are those who have interests and support "beyond the twosome.
Of course, making and maintaining friends is hard work, but make the effort to keep those relationships strong if you want your romantic relationship to last.
4. Try New Things Constantly and Often
Just like in most aspects of life, we tend to get stuck in our habits with relationships. When that happens, things start to get a bit boring. Studies show that couples who try new things on a regular basis have happier relationships.
That novelty of the new is all you need, but
The New York Times has some suggestions:
In one set of experiments, some couples are assigned a mundane task that involves simply walking back and forth across a room. Other couples, however, take part in a more challenging exercise — their wrists and ankles are bound together as they crawl back and forth pushing a ball. Before and after the exercise, the couples were asked things like, "How bored are you with your current relationship?" The couples who took part in the more challenging and novel activity showed bigger increases in love and satisfaction scores, while couples performing the mundane task showed no meaningful changes.
This also means just having fun together. Research from The University of Denver shows that couples who make time for fun activities tend to stay together longer.
"The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time," says Howard Markman, a psychologist who co-directs the university's Center for Marital and Family Studies.
"The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant."
Those new experiences also have a positive effect on your perception of time and tend to help you deal with unexpected changes
5. Sex Is Important
As you'd expect, a number of studies that couples who have sex at least two to three times a week are happier with the relationship. Put bluntly, regardless of the age, the more sex you have, the higher the level of relationship satisfaction.
The New York Times has a few suggestions for finding the time:
"The real issue here, I think, is that couples are not finding enough time for sex,'' said Dr. Smith. "I don't think you can keep forcing more and more activities in people's lives and still expect them to take the time it takes to have sex, let alone good-quality sex." Anthony Lyons, a study co-author and research fellow at La Trobe, said the main lesson from the study is that couples need to learn how to communicate about their sexual needs or their reasons for not wanting sex.
"Couples need to talk about the frequency of sex," Dr. Anthony said in an e-mail. "Talking openly about sex and finding a middle ground with regard to frequency appears to be very important for overall sexual and relationship satisfaction."
It might seem silly to do something like scheduling time for intimacy, but it's important to open up the dialogue about your sex life to dedicate some time to just be with each other.
6. Don't Be a Selfish Jerk (Obviously)
For every large study about big idea issues like sex, positivity, and whatever else, there's a lot of research into the minutiae of what makes a relationship successful. To sum it up, the bulk of this research is pretty simple: don't be a selfish jerk.
NOTE: This artilce was published on Life hacker