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When it comes to relationships, many articles and studies focus on the negatives. We’re often told which behaviors are most likely to lead to future relationship problems or breakups. Brian Ogolsky, a research professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, wanted to change this, instead choosing to analyze over 1,000 studies to discover the tools couples use to make their relationships last. The following tips are a summary of some of the most universally-successful techniques identified by Ogolsky during the course of his research.
Interpret Things in a Positive Manner
Sometimes, being a little delusional can be a good thing! Ogolsky discovered that individuals who viewed their partners in a particularly positive light were more likely to maintain happy relationships. Ignoring and dismissing other potential love interests while idealizing one's partner seems to lead to greater contentment, for instance. Interpreting the behaviors of one's partner in a forgiving, constructive manner appears to be linked to greater relationship success, too. If, for example, one's partner acts badly, one could interpret this as a one-time mistake, rather than a permanent character flaw. At the end of the day, being hopeful for the future of one's relationship and starry-eyed for one's lover seem to be key in keeping a relationship strong.
Work Together as a Team
Relationships are a team effort. Selfishness on either partner's side is guaranteed to corrode even the strongest of bonds. Sacrifice, on the other hand, has been proven to draw individuals closer together. Balance, however, is key. Both partners should be willing to make compromises and assist one another in meaningful ways. Helping one's partner achieve his or her dreams or complete important tasks, for instance, can ultimately strengthen a partnership, allowing both individuals to move forward with greater success. Those who respond to their partner's stress in supportive ways also tend to have healthier relationship dynamics. In short, selfless and supportive behaviors draw individuals closer together.
Resolve Conflicts & Focus on Forgiveness
Festering conflicts are perhaps the biggest killer of otherwise-healthy relationships. Sweeping issues under the rug almost never works. To maintain a strong bond, it is crucial to address interpersonal conflicts as they arise. Both partners may need to make compromises, modify their behaviors, or change their perspectives. Though resolving conflicts is almost always uncomfortable for both parties, it's far better than letting problems snowball, generating bitterness and resentment. Addressing issues head-on, listening to each other, and apologizing and forgiving when appropriate are some of the best ways to manage interpersonal disputes. If all else fails, couples can also just "agree to disagree."
When it comes to communication, most of us have some room for improvement! Instead of just talking to one other, couples should strive to have truly meaningful conversations every day. The most successful couples connect mindfully, setting aside their smartphones and shutting off their televisions to ensure that they're truly listening to one another. Thought it can be difficult, individuals must remain positive, patient, and open-minded, even when misunderstandings occur or difficult issues are discussed. Even tedious details, such as the distribution of household tasks, should be addressed on a regular basis. Verbalizing both the meaningful and the mundane is one of the cornerstones to making a partnership last.
Keep It Light and Fun
Humor has the potential to diffuse tension in challenging situations. One doesn't need to be a comedic genius to laugh off a difficult moment, however; simply remaining light-hearted and maintaining a positive perspective during rough times can work wonders in helping your relationship weather difficult times.
The happiest couples actively take the time to do enjoyable things together, too. Couples who engage in fulfilling leisure activities together have been proven to have better relationships. Though the concept of "date night" might seem silly, scheduling the time for mutual fun is one of the best ways to infuse one's relationship with a little extra joy and laughter.
For most of us, these relationship-maintenance strategies are probably unsurprising. Most of us know that communicating with our significant others and acting unselfishly are important tools for fostering healthy partnerships. Ultimately, however, this knowledge is irrelevant if we forget to put it into practice.
The next time you hit a roadblock in your relationship, think back on these techniques. A change in perspective, a touch of forgiveness, or a dash of humor might be just what you need to reconnect with your lover.
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