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Make Love Last


Cultivate curiosity
One common denominator of couples headed for divorce is a lack of curiosity about each other’s inner lives, says Gottman. So try to build a map of your partner’s world- likes and dislikes, fears and dreams, quirks and peeves. By learning to see your spouse in all his fullness, completely autonomous from you, you slowly familiarize yourself with an equally valid reality that is not your own. You find something in his story that you can understand, even if you strongly disagree with it.

Joseph Prunty, of Philadelphia, attributes his marital success to the curiosity he and his wife share about what makes each other tick. “It gives us an entry point to each other’s motivations- intellectual, emotional, and to some degree spiritual,” he says. “I need that for camaraderie’s sake: the shared experiences, the pursuit of mutual goals, the feeling of teamwork.”

Accept influence
To have a true partnership, both parties must be open to accepting influence from the other, explains Gottman, and women tend to do this more naturally than men. Yes, it’s the “C” word ‘compromise’ and for such a mild word, the experience can be shockingly torturous, as if ceding ground equals personal invalidation. “Choosing what’s good for the relationship over one’s own thoughts and feelings, doing what works instead of what you want, is the way to openness, growth, and positivity,” says Robyn Walser, PhD, coauthor of The Mindful Couple (New Harbinger, 2009). For Prunty, that means learning to live with the dishes his spouse leaves in the sink, while for Ian Mathews, it means listening to Monica process more than he feels the situation warrants.

When all else fails, humor can work miracles. So can being the first to say, “I’m sorry”, even if you feel your partner had been in the wrong. But as for the special sauce that makes a marriage juicy, vital, and satisfying, it seems praise and appreciation work any day. Counting the ways that you love someone isn’t just for maudlin Victorian poets; numbers and romance, it turns out, make passionate bedfellows.

Elizabeth Marglin would like to thank her husband for always cleaning the kitty litter.

The Numbers Game
96% The chance that, once an argument begins harshly, it will stay that way or just get worse.
50% The frequency with which people in unhappy relationships miss their partner’s positive attempts at connection.
80% How often the woman brings up issues in the relationship as opposed to the man.
69% Amount of fights that bring up old, unresolved issues.
25 The number of separate studies that confirm a drop, often quite steep, in marital satisfaction after the transition to parenthood.
4 Number of years children of divorced parents have their life expectancy shortened.
40% How much more money married men make compared to single guys.
62% The number of people who rank sharing household chores third in importance for what makes a marriage successful—just below good sex and faithfulness.
78% The number of unhappy marriages repaired within five years.
Sources: University of Washington; Gottman Institute; Stephanie Coontz; Child Development; The Case for Marriage by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher; Pew Research Institute; Psychology Today

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67 comments

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1:21PM PST on Feb 8, 2010

I have tried this idea several times in situations of stress and have found that praising others is a something we can all learn to do. We often critisize too often and I found that this was very distructive to any kind of relationship. There is being realistic about a situation, and there are times when we really need a boost to our well-being. I found that if I like doing something for someone else, more than likely they will say thank you back. However if I begrudgingly do something for someone, there more than likely to feel the resentment that I am giving off and somehow the appreciation doesn't come flooding in. Then I feel even more angry and frustrated. In other words try to look at the positives rather than the negatives and the outlook may look a bit brighter. Try to get others involved in positive action,and you never know we could be onto a winner? This worked with my child , and even my housework shy husband! Things are looking up!

9:12PM PST on Feb 1, 2010

thanks for this post!

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4:09AM PST on Jan 26, 2010

I think marriage and living together are two separate situations. Neither has been successful for me and I believe it was me that was the issue...I like, very much, spending time alone. This is not good for a relationship. I really liked the article, thank you.

4:14PM PST on Jan 25, 2010

good post

5:33PM PST on Jan 19, 2010

thank great info

9:34AM PST on Jan 16, 2010

ty

2:27PM PST on Jan 7, 2010

This is wonderful, practical advice for positive outcomes to all our relationships :)

2:49PM PST on Jan 6, 2010

Thanks for the info.

12:11PM PST on Jan 5, 2010

very good

7:14AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

it is great to see value placed on love not money- on eternal true things that matter!

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