Do you know the most important factor in tightening the bond between two people in a committed relationship? It may not be what you think.
Today’s New York Times is reporting on a study appearing in the new issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study suggests that the strongest predictor of a relationship’s health isn’t the way couples react in conflict or what the Times calls “love’s headaches.”
The most important factor is the way each person in the couple responds to the other’s triumphs and successes. Researchers concluded that couples in which partners respond to the other’s good fortune with passive approval, excitement or shared pride have a better chance of lasting relationship than couples who convey indifference in such moments.
In For Couples, Reaction to Good News Matters More Than Reaction to Bad, the Times wrote,
Celebrating a partner’s promotion as if it were one’s own provides the partner with a tremendous emotional lift, said Dr. Gable, while playing down or belittling the news can leave a deep and lasting chill. In most relationships, positive events outnumber negative ones by at least four to one, studies have found, and “you get much more bang for your buck” by amplifying life’s rewards than by soothing its bruises, as important as that is, Dr. Gable said.
This makes sense to me and I can see how the two factors go hand in hand. You’re more likely to be genuinely tickled pink by your partner’s success when there’s not a dark cloud of perpetual tension hanging over you. And being excited by your partner’s success helps create a bond that holds strong even during times of tension and conflict…the glue that keeps you together.
There’s actually a form of work that a few mediators and a conflict management coaches do that builds on exactly the premise described above. In Solutions Depend on How We Frame the Problem, I talked about this approach a little bit, using an example from one of my graduate classes. If you’re interested in how the approach can assist you and your partner, or you and your organization, drop me a line…I’m happy to answer questions about it.