Falling in love is quick but learning to maintain a strong and healthy relationship is a lifelong rewarding pursuit. I asked seven couples from around the world to share what they have learnt about love and relationships.
That’s almost as quick as it takes to blink. Research suggests that people start to develop traits and qualities for romantic intimacy in early childhood which has implications on how people approach relationships in adulthood.
“I love you” has a unique meaning for each person in the relationship.
Terry Hartkoff, sociology professor at California State University, Northridge, created a love scale that identifies how you define love. You can try the love scale quiz here.
Romantic: Sexual attraction and passion
Best friends: Deep affection and tenderness
Logical: Practical shared values and goals
Playful: Flirtatious interaction
Possessive: Obsessive jealousy
Unselfish: Putting the needs of your significant other before your own without wanting anything in return.
When you know how your partner defines love, you can then better navigate any conflict that may arise. Intentions and values thus sustain a relationship long-term.
It is important for partners to be each other’s cheerleader when the going gets tough. However, research shows that how you respond to your partner’s good news is more important for relationship quality.
In 2006, psychology researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara asked young adult couples to discuss positive events from their lives. There were four ways in which they reacted to each other’s good news:
1) Passive destructive
2) Active destructive
3) Passive constructive
4) Active constructive
As an example, one partner might say, “I got accepted to play a lead role in a major Hollywood film!”
Her partner could respond in a passive destructive way by saying, “I just won a gym membership for a year.” If he responded in a passive constructive way, he would show some acknowledgement of the good news by saying, “That’s cool.” An active destructive response would disregard how much the achievement means to the other person. A response might be, “Are you sure about that? You already seemed so happy with your current career.” Lastly, there is active constructive response. Her partner would listen to her wholeheartedly and give a meaningful reposne. An example might be, “Woah! Congratulations!!! When do you start filming? Let’s go out and celebrate tonight!”
Active constructive is the best type of responding for a strong and healthy relationship.
This year for Valentine’s Day seven couples share what it takes to maintain a healthy and strong relationship.