How can you remember what all these studies have to say?
Just keep the 5 R’s in mind:
Let’s break them down.
You might think it would be great if you could have a relationship with zero arguing.
But marriages with no arguments are 35% more likely to divorce.
Things need to be worked out and you may need to compromise.
Being rigid and resistant to new ideas increases conflict by 38%.
Relationships with major disappointments followed by forgiveness are just as stable as ones without major disappointments.
You can’t not argue and you can’t fight to the death. You need to fight right.
If you stay compassionate and show you care — even in the midst of a screaming match — you have a better shot at happiness.
Keep It Real
Do you expect a fairy tale relationship? That’s a prescription for disappointment.
The modern day equivalent of fairy tales is TV.
And as you might expect, watching too much TV is correlated with unsatisfying relationships.
It’s all about the bar that’s set for you or the bar you set for yourself.
So, as you might imagine, perfectionism does not make for a happy love life either.
Be realistic about what you can and should expect from a relationship. And realize that things change.
A third of the time what attracts you to someone isn’t important to you six months later.
Talking, sharing, being open — these are all highly praised, and for good reason.
Couples who communicate are 62% more likely to describe their relationship as happy.
Expecting your partner to be a mind reader will just make you miserable. Want something? Ask for it.
If you’re still shopping for a partner, look for someone with good social skills who has maintained friendships for a long time.
More laughing means less fighting.
Want your marriage to last more than 30 years? Just “being married” isn’t enough: you also need to be good friends.
Pairs that lasted longer than five years usually had a number of interests in common.
Having similar values offers a huge boost in the ability to communicate.
Believe it or not, even having similar fighting styles was a good thing.
It was related to double digit drops in conflict and a double digit increase in satisfaction.
Many people are probably reading this, identifying the good things they already do and feeling smug. Sorry, you can’t stop there.
Relationships are not a “check the box and you’re done” kind of thing. You need to keep at it, monitoring and improving.
Which feelings and improvements matter most? Recent ones.
Plenty of research shows that conscientiousness is a great quality to have in a spouse or partner.
Having a partner who is consistently reliable often means a healthy relationship with less conflict.
One More Thing
Never forget that, in the end, all relationships are about feelings.
Especially when fighting, we get caught up in the facts, the details, the words… And what’s funny is little of that ends up mattering.
When surveyed about their arguments, people mentioned feelings and tone ten times as much as the topic of debate.
25% of people couldn’t even remember what the argument was about — but they all remembered how it made them feel.
As Maya Angelou once said:
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.