Tell Me How You Discuss And I Will Tell You How Long Will Your Relationship Last!

Eventually, all couples have discussions and that is unavoidable. But there are certain reactions during or after such discussions that may guarantee the success or failure of a relationship.

The topics or things that may lead a couple to a discussion are countless, some are originated on important issues, but most of them on the simplest things such as what t.v. channel to watch or who will do the laundry. But what if during those discussions you could measure the heart rates, body language and sweating of both of you? What if you could record them and lately study how those emotions affect each one?  The discussion wouldn´t be just another one and the results of that analysis could define how long will the relationship last.

John Gottman, a scientist from Washington University created a “love laboratory” and after analyzing over 3000 couples since 1980, claims that evaluation how a couple discuss, how the partners yell or get mad, it is possible to predict with 95% of accuracy if they will separate or stay together on the next 15 years. His predictive formula involves investigating those emotions that are not regularly obvious and emerge only during a fight.

Gottman studied the reactions of each individual and came up with a classification of those reactions that can determine the termination of a couple. He divided them on 4 types: the defensive, the critic, the obstructionist and the contemptuous. And it is the last one, contempt, the emotion that is responsible of the largest percentage of ruptures. Being contemptuous goes beyond criticizing, it implies answering to the other from a perspective of superiority, diminishing the other person up to the point of making him/her feel excluded.

Scorn or contempt is the most harmful reaction for the other person. It affects even our immune system and it is a hierarchic response that may not be aggressive, it can be hidden on subtle comments such as: “ yes, yes, sure…and what do you know about it?”.

During an argument and after it, women tend to react with critic and men with obstructionism (trying to prevent or make difficult the regular evolution of a process), and regarding contempt, there is no difference among both genders.

So how should be the smarter way to handle a discussion if we want our relationship to last? First of all, we have to be honest on how we feel. Our emotions are subtle most of the times, not so evident, but we let them emerge while we argue, and the other person catches them. Gottman recommends that after a discussion, and when both members have calmed down, we should talk with our partner but not focusing on the problem or topic of the fight, but on the emotions that were present behind this. We should talk about how we made the other one feel with our words and how our partner made us feel.

It is mandatory to avoid being contemptuous, and after the discussion we should try to identify if at any moment we or the other one used scorn or hurting words.

According to Gottman, to wisely handle the discussions we must base on how we make the other one feel with our words and with what we express even being conscious of it. His advice is to make the other one feel important during the discussion. Even when confronted, we should express some recognition to our partners. Within a fight there have to be reproach and demands of justifications, but there also has to be some flattering too. Gottman suggests an equation among positive and negative emotions: 5 to 1, for each 5 critics he recommends one positive comment, a caress to the other one´s soul. Learn to handle your discussions following Gottman´s recommendations, on them depends how long will your relationship last.

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