Last year, Relate helped more than four million people of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities to strengthen their relationships. Here we share their article on research by award-winning marital therapist and author Dr John Gottman, who observed that couples who stay together have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions in their relationships…

Are you getting your five a day when it comes to the good stuff that will nourish and sustain your relationship?

A positive interaction might be a thoughtful action, asking questions, showing empathy, a kind word, a hug, a gift, a shared joke, a romantic gesture. And a negative interaction could be a criticism, a disagreement, hurt feelings, anger and hostility.

Daily diet

Negative interactions hold a stronger emotional charge and have more power to damage your relationship than positive interactions have the power to heal. So, to keep your

relationship healthy, make sure that for every negative interaction you have with your partner, make up for it with five positive interactions to keep you in credit.

As long as you have five times as many good interactions with your partner as bad ones, your relationship will be more capable of withstanding your rockier patches and be more stable overall.

Get your five a day

Couples who come to Relate have often been focusing so hard on their problems that the joy and happiness seems to have disappeared from their relationship and they have become problem saturated.

Their positive to negative ratio count is dangerously low and this is putting their relationship into a very vulnerable state and they often feel they are at crisis point.

If this sounds familiar, try to park your differences for a while and put your focus back on building up some positive credit in your bank. Have some fun together, plan a romantic date or just make some time to connect with each other. Up the positive interaction count so you remember why you are together, what you love about each other and make your relationship one that’s worth fighting for.

Conflict is healthy

One negative interaction is just as important as the five positive, because conflict and arguments are also necessary to keep our relationships healthy and honest. Couples who never argue or complain aren’t doing themselves any favours, as conflict avoidance is not the answer either. If you’ve got something you want to talk to your partner about it’s healthier to express what’s on your mind. That doesn’t mean bringing up every little thing – just not bottling up your emotions unnecessarily.

Need further help?

Go to relate.org.uk for lots of useful tips to help keep your relationship on track.

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