|"Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of
whatever solid and durable happiness
is in our lives." C.S. Lewis
The Gottman Institute has done a ton of research with couples. They have found that "fondness and admiration" are two very important elements in a relationship. You could say this sets the tone or the positive perspective in a relationship. There are two sides to this, they are known at the positive sentiment override (PSO) and the negative sentiment override (NSO). The research has found that couples on a stable path have a 20 to 1 of positive to negative interactions. Take a moment to think about this. Where do you think you are in your relationship? When you've been with someone for a while it's easy to focus on the negative rather than the positive. When your relationship is in the NSO, 50% of the time you don't even notice the positive in the relationship. Here are three tips to help keep you out of the NSO in your relationship:
- Don't get caught in the negative cycle. Just as a bad attitude is contagious, so is a good one. Stop keeping score. Tell your partner what you appreciate about them and be specific. If you like their sense of humor, then let them know it. Let your partner know you are thankful. For example, thank your partner when you come home and dinner is started or the laundry is done. This will help build a positive tone in the relationship.
- The five to one ratio. This is where five positive interactions erase one negative interaction. When your partner comes home at the end of the day stop what you are doing and greet them. This can be as simple as a smile and a hello. A seven second kiss really adds money to the bank. When in a relationship, you are always making bids for your partner's affection. It's important to return these bids. When you don't, it's like withdrawing money from the bank.
- Control your thoughts. When you are away from your partner think fondly of your partner. Stop running the negative through your mind all day. Remembering all the things you don't like about your partner or the things your partner didn't do right. This will build the NSO and create distance between the two of you. Not only control your thoughts about your partner, but control your thoughts about yourself. The brain is a muscle and can be trained. Just as a professional athlete will train their muscles for a game you can train your brain with positive thoughts.