Think about the last encounter you had with your partner/significant other. Was it a positive encounter or a negative one? Did you kiss him/her goodbye or did you complain that they didn’t put away their laundry? If you could quantify every interaction in your relationship, it would fall on either the positive or the negative side. The key to a happy relationship is to keep those interactions in balance. Psychologists have determined that the magic ratio of having a successful relationship is to outnumber your negative moments with positive ones on a 5:1 scale.
Using the magic ratio, psychologists have been able to accurately predict the success or failure of marriages. After observing couples for 15 minutes and counting their positive or negative reactions, researchers were able to determine which couples would divorce with 94% accuracy.
If you think about it, every time you are in a disagreement with your significant other, you must then create 5 more positive moments in order to neutralize that negativity. It makes complaining about something trivial seem much less important.
Test your relationship. For one week keep a tally of your positive and negative interactions. If the ratio is out of balance, your relationship may be in trouble and you might not have ever known there was anything wrong until it was too late. Don’t wait until the buildup of negativity becomes so large that your partner no longer wants to work on repairing the relationship.
Frame your negative interactions in terms of finite numbers. Determine how many positive interactions you have in an average day. For example, let’s say you have 5 positive moments. If you’ve had a disagreement earlier in the day, you should wait to bring up anything else that’s bothering you for another day. Two things may happen: you’ll keep your relationship in balance and you may find that what was bothering you no longer seems important after a night’s sleep.
If you find that you are having too many negative moments and you just can’t seem to reduce them, make a conscious effort to increase your positive moments. There are hundreds of ways to work positive moments into an otherwise average day.
Send your partner a note/text/instagram/tweet/status update/carrier pigeon. Your goal should be to make your partner smile every day. If you can’t make them smile, then why are you together? Take 20 seconds out of your day to text your partner to see how their day is going, send them a silly meme, leave a sticky note on their laptop screen they’ll be surprised to see when they get to work. It doesn’t take much creativity or effort to let your partner know you’re thinking of them.
Touch them. Our society is startlingly devoid of touch. If someone accidentally brushes past us too closely we expect profuse apologies or that person is considered rude. We basically turn off one of our five senses all day long. Our bodies crave touch. Kiss your partner good morning and goodnight. Hold hands when you walk together. Rub their shoulders, neck, or wherever else is their favorite spot.
Compliment them. We depend on our partners for unconditional love. Be your partner’s rock. Build them up whenever you can. Even a simple “You look nice today,” goes a long way.
Thank them. If one of you feeds the cat and the other one does the dishes, don’t take that for granted. Thank your partner for what they’re doing around the house. Sometimes it’s easy not to notice the efforts the other person is making. But we all appreciate gratitude for our work. The more you thank your partner for helping out around the house, the more your partner will want to do to earn MORE gratitude.
Do things together. Often we tend to socialize with our friends over spending time with our spouse. It’s important to spend quality time together. Explore your interests, take a class together, go on a hike, even take a trip to the grocery store together. If you do everything separately, you limit the number of positive moments you can share.
What’s amazing is that the magic ratio can apply to any relationship, not just your relationship with your significant other. You can use it to improve your work interactions, conflict with your siblings or friends, or even to better raise your children. You can use positive moments as a tool to repair what’s broken in your bonds with your loved ones.