April 29, 2014

I’ve posted a lot about the research behind what makes relationships work — and not work.

How can you remember what all these studies have to say?

Just keep the 5 R’s in mind:

  1. Right
  2. Real
  3. Rapport
  4. Relate
  5. Review

Let’s break them down.

Fight Right

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Things need to be worked out and you may need to compromise.

Being rigid and resistant to new ideas increases conflict by 38%.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Relationships with major disappointments followed by forgiveness are just as stable as ones without major disappointments.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Keep It Real

Do you expect a fairy tale relationship? That’s a prescription for disappointment.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

The modern day equivalent of fairy tales is TV.

And as you might expect, watching too much TV is correlated with unsatisfying relationships.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

It’s all about the bar that’s set for you or the bar you set for yourself.

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So, as you might imagine, perfectionism does not make for a happy love life either.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Have Rapport

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Expecting your partner to be a mind reader will just make you miserable. Want something? Ask for it.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

If you’re still shopping for a partner, look for someone with good social skills who has maintained friendships for a long time.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

More laughing means less fighting.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Want your marriage to last more than 30 years? Just “being married” isn’t enough: you also need to be good friends.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Relate

Opposites do not attract. Couples that are similar do much better.

Pairs that lasted longer than five years usually had a number of interests in common.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Having similar values offers a huge boost in the ability to communicate.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

Review

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

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.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

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.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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