Resolving Stress in Your Relationships

We all know the importance of being kind, doing and saying nice things to others, being neutral and positive, having gratitude for all aspects of our lives. Sometimes it’s easier to be nicer to strangers than to those we are closest to. Sometimes those closest relationships cause stress, and it can be difficult to experience the positive moments with those we are most stressed with!

The below article shared in an email from the Natural Health Sherpa (who gave us permission to quote it) approaches the importance of positive talk and actions from a different perspective that includes research on 5,000 people.

Ever think a relationship problem could be the cause of a future illness?

Researchers say yes…

In 1967, two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, examined the medical records of more than 5,000 patients as a way to determine whether a “stress event” may cause future illness.

The results were later published and became known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, and while you may have not heard of it, your doctor likely has. Doctors use it to calculate whether a stress event, or a combination of stress events, will push someone over the edge into an illness.

What’s most fascinating to me is that “marriage and relationships” is found three times in the top 10 categories of stress events!

Interesting right?

Several years ago, in my quest for self-improvement, I dove deep into understanding how to communicate, relate and ensure that I had a healthy marriage. After several decades of marriage, my wife and I have had our ups and downs.

Like all couples, we’ve had our fair share of arguments, and anytime it got bad, there would be days when I was “stressed”, and I will honestly admit it was usually my fault.

But nearly seven years ago, I learned one small tip that made the world of difference, not only in my marriage, but in all relationships…and it came from a man in the state of Washington.

Dr. John Gottman has spent more than 30 years studying marriages and, moreover, the predictability of divorce. And he came to a very interesting conclusion that helped me minimize future stress from my relationships.

Gottman developed the Love Lab, an apartment where couples would allow researchers to record their interactions (every room except the bathroom and bedroom).

Dr. Gottman and his team spent three decades recording details of couples who fought, then watched to see how they recovered. And they found something interesting…

The Apology Rarely Mattered for MOST People.*

Turns out the predictor of successfully resolving conflict wasn’t tied to one or both people saying I’m sorry.

The real predictor of reconciliation was the ratio of positive-to-negative feelings and actions between partners during normal day-to-day living.

Dr. Gottman noted that successful couples—those who survive thick and thin—have a ratio of five positive events to every one negative event.

Simple, yet profound… right?

From that moment, I made it a point in all my relationships that, when allowed the opportunity, I would make it positive… and it changed everything for me.

It could be something little like a small compliment in the morning or showing appreciation for something my wife does every day, to a much bigger celebration. However…

Every Positive Moment Counts.

Now I’ve made it a point in my life, in every relationship, to be 10x more positive than negative, and it has saved me a lot of headaches, improved my relationships, reduced a lot of unnecessary stress and, in several cases, allowed many conflicts to be resolved quickly.

Now I want to learn from you…

How have you learned to resolve stress in your relationship?

I’ve written previously about Being Neutral vs. Positive Thinking, as well as What is Your Love Language, and this information about contributing more positive events than negative events is yet another “technique”, if you will, in strengthening your closest relationships and resolving some of the stress you may experience.

*I just wanted to add that there isn’t anything wrong with saying “I’m sorry,” since saying so (and meaning it) can be a strong support in a relationship. Rather, it’s that apologizing may not be very effective if there are very few positive aspects in the relationship to begin with. Also, chronic apologizing – saying you’re sorry to end an argument without really meaning it, or continuing to say it after every argument without any positive future change to resolve the issue – loses its meaning and becomes more of a habit than an effective tool. An apology is always nice, and sometimes can be necessary in allowing someone to move past an argument, but the positive actions and feelings shared on a daily basis are what create a strong foundation of any relationship!

For more info on Dr. Gottman and his Love Lab at The Gottman Institute, CLICK HERE.