Maybe the Number One tip for relationship success: Be nice!
Maybe the Number One Tip for Relationship Success: Be Nice!
I’m not being trite here. This may be the #1 way to make a relationship more successful. Listen to my reasoning:
What *nice* is:
- Speaking in a respectful tone of voice
- Perspective taking
- Daily noticing your partner (deeds, personality, ideas, values). Harvard psychologist and researcher, Ellen Langer, suggests that daily naming 5 things about your parter will significantly improve your relationship.
- Refusing to show contempt. Daniel Gottman, marriage expert, says the #1 predictor of divorce is a couple that shows contempt. Contempt looks like one or more of these things:
- Avoiding criticism. Gottman also warns against being critical. Criticism is not meant to help, it is simply a discharge of your own personal frustrations. Rather than criticize, share *I feel, when…* statements (said calmly and politely) and leave some quiet space for your partner to respond and respect your needs.
- Stopping stonewalling behavior. Stonewalling is another of what Gottman calls the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse (destroyers of relationships). Stonewalling looks like:
- Refusing to have a conversation on a difficult topic
- Silent treatment
- Stubbornness/refusal to change or adapt
What *nice* is not:
- Denial (Just because you are being polite, doesn’t mean that your partner isn’t an idiot sometimes. Face the things that are wrong, decide what YOU need to do in relation to those things and then talk about it.)
- Codependence (Is your identity swallowed up in your significant other? Are you only okay if he/she is happy? That’s toxic to you and to the relationship.)
- Being a doormat (Healthy people set boundaries for themselves and what they will do with or put up from their partner.)
- Never having your own opinion (Healthy couples have 2 individuals who bring their individual thoughts to the table. This creates a rich relationship.)
- Agreeing with everything your significant other says or does
- Avoiding healthy confrontation
This sounds like wise advice, right? But it is not so easy once you are past the honeymoon phase in a relationship. After those first *fall-in-love* hormones dissipate, being nice can often be an act of your will. A choice.
A good choice.
Good relationships are good for you and for the world around you.
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