The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated. ~William James
Psychologist John Gottman can predict with 94% certainty within 15 minutes if a couple has a solid relationship, if their relationship will fail or will result in an unhappy union.
After years of studying relationships, Gottman has discovered that happy, connected couples – those he refers to as Masters – scan social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They build this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Masters also express appreciation and gratitude for their significant others a minimum of 5 times each day. They find the good in their partner and express their thanks.
Contempt, Gottman states, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who focus on criticizing their partners miss half of positive things their partners are doing. They also see negativity when it’s not there.
People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re invisible and not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner’s ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.
Kindness and appreciation glues couples together. Research independent from Gottman’s has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a relationship.
Think of kindness is a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.
Among those couples who live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness, gratitude and generosity guides them forward.