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10 things to keep in mind to have a successful marriage

From John Gottman's book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail

    1. Beware the four horsemen of the apocalypse

    Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, Withdrawal

    2. Once you view your marriage history as negative, you're on a slippery slope

    3. Learn your marriage 'style'

    Are you a validator? Avoidant? Volatile? Each marriage style has pros and cons but can tell you a lot about how conflict is resolved

    4. Know the difference between complaining, criticism and contempt

    Complaining is situation-specific and focused on how you feel ("I feel that..."). Criticism attacks a person's character. Contempt shows you are morally superior.

    Complain without blame.

    5. When things get heated, learn to 'disrupt' feelings of anger or spiraling cycles of frustration

    Be calm - take a breath, walk away or try to do something else. Or add humor to the situation.

    6. If you find yourself acting defensively, reframe the situation

    They aren't attacking you (even if you feel they are). The other person may just not feel heard. Apologies help. Restating what you're hearing to the other person also helps.

    7. Withdrawal is bad

    If you find the other person giving you the silent treatment or not talking to you, they are likely being flooded with negative emotions. Watch your tone. Watch your language. Be soft. Remind them you aren't attacking them and you're trying to repair the relationship.

    8. Keep to a 5:1 ratio

    5 positives for every 'negative' you want to bring up.

    9. Learn to communicate non-defensively

    A deeper book on this topic is non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg.

    10. Focus on the positives

    Imagine at work that all your boss does is give you constructive criticism. You wouldn't be very motivated to improve would you? It's the same in marriages. Focus on the positives the other person brings.

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