Tips for a Successful Relationship/Marriage

tips for a successful relationship marriageWhat Happy Successful Couples Do to Make Their Marriage Last


John Gottman is a psychologist who has been researching couples for over 35 years. His research has included extensive videotaping of actual couples interacting day to day in his “love lab“.


As a result of his research, he is 94% accurate in predicting divorce – very powerful! His work is used frequently in relationship counseling. This is what he has found happy, stable, and successful couples do:


1. Make sure there is a ratio of 5:1 positives to negatives. If you say or do one negative thing, it must be followed up with 5 positive comments or behaviors. Three things he found that creates lasting change: (1) increasing overall positive atmosphere, (2) increasing positive thoughts, words, touches, looks, and actions during conflict and (3)decreasing negative thoughts, words, touches, looks, and actions during conflict.


2. Create a “Love Map” of your partner; that is, take time to know your partner, what they believe, what they desire, what their dreams are. For example, know details such as their favorite color, best friend, what it is they care about, their favorite food, what makes them laugh, their most painful or joyous experience.


3. Use a “soft startup” when beginning to talk about things that are upsetting, especially by the female partner. Males’ physiology goes up and stays up for hours even after a mild disagreement. Gottman refers to this as “flooding.” Both men and women experience this. It is very stressful and damaging to both, but males blood pressure, heart rate, and all the physiological alert responses (flooding) stay elevated for hours afterward. A “soft startup” is saying 30-60 seconds of appreciations about your partner or the relationship before bringing up the difficulty, or whatever it takes to make your partner feel safe enough with you to keep from flooding.

What is your relationship attachment style? Take this quiz and find out.

4. Allow yourself to be influenced by your partner. Listen to them, taking their opinions, thoughts, feelings, and needs into consideration. This is especially important for men to do because they more often tend to “stonewall”, that is, pulling away, withdrawing, and not looking at or talking to their partner.


5. Don’t criticize, attack or hold your partner in contempt. Complain instead. Ex of a complaint: “I’m upset because…”. Ex of a criticism: “You never…”You always, You’re…” – attacking your partner. Ex of contempt: feeling superior to your partner, rolling eyes, sighing, not liking, valuing, or appreciating, or saying nasty putdowns.


6. Guard against the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse: Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling (Withdrawing), and Contempt. These behaviors are predictors of divorce!!! The antidotes are (1) criticism – change to gentle complaints, (2) defensiveness – hear what your partner is sharing as information instead of an attack, and accept responsibility quickly for your part, (3) stonewalling – learn to soothe yourself so you won’t feel so unable to not pull away, (4) contempt – create a culture of appreciation for your partner.


7. Hold a positive image of your partner and of the marriage (if you are married) in your mind, especially in the midst of a fight. Think of and relate to your partner as if they are your best friend.


8. Learn how to repair things when there’s been an upset. Right away. Put special emphasis on regulating and de-escalating the conflict.


9. Create rituals together. Celebrating birthdays, holidays,special occasions, favorite songs, going to favorite restaurants, doing activities together, etc.


10. Share your visions, dreams, and hopes with one another. Then explore to find the meaning underneath for each of you. Support each other’s dreams. And create shared meaning in your relationship.


Looking for relationship counseling?

Whether you are single or currently in a relationship, Houston relationship counseling can help you find the intimacy and connection you desire. Contact one of our relationship counselors in Houston to find out more. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.


Relationship Resources

The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples provides an opportunity for you and your spouse to benefit from learning the basics of strong, connected marriages, no matter how long you’ve been married. If marriage disconnection is an issue for you, this can be a helpful tool to get you back on track together. This can be a great resource to bring in with you to couples therapy. Click here to view more details.


The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples is designed to help you embark on marriage with a strong relationship skill set. We encourage you to strengthen your relationship foundation BEFORE you tie the knot – to pack your toolbox for the inherent ups and downs of life. This can provide insight for discussion in premarital counseling. Click here to view more details.

Recommended Reading:

relationship counselingTen Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship 

What emerged from the Gottmans’ collaboration and decades of research is a body of advice that’s based on two surprisingly simple truths: Happily married couples behave like good friends, and they handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways. The authors offer an intimate look at ten couples who have learned to work through potentially destructive problems—extramarital affairs, workaholism, parenthood adjustments, serious illnesses, lack of intimacy—and examine what they’ve done to improve communication and get their marriages back on track.


relationship counselingSeven Principles for Making Marriage Work

John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life’s work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.


relationship counselingThe Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

A groundbreaking, practical program for transforming troubled relationships into positive ones.

relationship counselingWhy Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last

Psychologist John Gottman has spent 20 years studying what makes a marriage last. Now you can use his tested methods to evaluate, strengthen, and maintain your own long-term relationship. This breakthrough book guides you through a series of self-tests designed to help you determine what kind of marriage you have, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what specific actions you can take to help your marriage.

relationship counselingHold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

Heralded by the New York Times and Time magazine as the couple therapy with the highest rate of success, Emotionally Focused Therapy works because it views the love relationship as an attachment bond. This idea, once controversial, is now supported by science, and has become widely popular among therapists around the world.


Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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