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5 Things Friday: 5 Signs Your Life Partnership Is on the Right Track

Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, it’s five ways to tell whether your life partnership/marriage is headed in the right direction.

Sociologists have pointed out for decades that marriage and the nuclear family have the odds stacked against them. For the vast majority of human history, we all lived in tight-knit communities with many different kinds of relationships and responsibilities. For example, raising kids was something that was naturally spread out between grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, and neighbors.

Today, all of the relationships and responsibilities are the burden of two people (that is if we’re lucky). It’s no wonder that modern marriage is so hard. It’s an experiment that’s only a few hundred years old.

Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs researchers and practitioners have discovered that can help us gauge how our marriage or life partnership is doing.  

Sign #1: You have a deep friendship with each other

Dr. John Gottman, the world-renowned relationship researcher, argues that great marriages are like a well-built house with a solid foundation of deep friendship. This friendship, in his model, is made of a rich understanding of each others’ backgrounds and personalities (“love maps” in Gottman’s words), and nurturing “fondness and admiration” for each other.

How do you know if you have a deep friendship with your partner? The first step is taking stock of how well each of you understands the background and personality of the other. What triggers each of you? What childhood traumas do you each carry? What puts you each in the flow, and what brings you down?

The second step is becoming aware of how much “fondness and admiration” you actually have for each other. Here’s a quiz from the Gottman Institute to check on the level of fondness and admiration you have for your partner.

The good news is that all of this is changeable. By taking the time to ask questions, listen, and tell stories, you can build a rich understanding of your partner; and by proactively expressing fondness and admiration you can actually generate these feelings.

Sign #2: You're playful with each other

Couples that play together, stay together. Research suggests that playfulness between couples supports strong relationships in several different ways. Before outlining these let’s define what researchers mean by playfulness. One researcher developed a model for understanding playfulness with the acronym OLIW: Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual, and Whimsical. Playfulness is always with another person, so it’s other-directed. It’s a clear recognition that the stakes at hand are low, so it’s lighthearted. Playfulness can be seen in interest in ideas for their own sake, so it can be intellectual. And finally, playful people take joy in oddities and the extraordinary, so playfulness can be whimsical.

Playfulness supports romantic relationships in at least four ways. First, playfulness helps by giving us positive emotions while we’re with our partners. The more we experience positive emotions with our partners, the more we associate these good feelings with being around our partners in the absence of play.

Second, play helps couples learn about each other. Play in all animals has a learning component to it and this is likely at work in us humans. Third, it helps release tension. Obviously, life isn’t all fun and games. But when couples engage in more playfulness, it’s easier to weather the tough times.

Finally, playfulness improves our communication skills. Through play, couples learn how to express and listen to each other in a variety of different ways (and when the stakes are low and positive emotions high).  

Sign #3: You feel like a team

Teamwork makes the dream work. When couples have a strong shared understanding of themselves and each other, psychologists find that they have more affection for each other, higher relationship satisfaction, and stay together longer. This sense of “we-ness” helps to shape our individual identities into shared identities, provides us with a sense of shared purpose and meaning, and gives us a source of combined wisdom.

How do you know if you and your partner are a team? According to these researchers, you can tell by how much and how well you and your partner talk about and agree on major aspects of life like child-rearing, finances, and domestic life, and how often you both set aside time to talk about big and meaningful things to you both like life goals and deep fears and vulnerabilities.  

Sign #4: You argue with respect and commitment

The arguments are inevitable. In fact, they’re a positive sign that you’re both authentically expressing yourselves! No arguments often mean repression, which leads to worse outcomes down the road. The key to a thriving relationship then is in how couples argue.

According to Dr. Gottman, nearly all divorced couples began arguments with harsh, critical, and incurious language. But the couples who began with curiosity, owning some responsibility, and stating needs without blaming went on to resolve many conflicts and build stronger relationships.

Sign #5: You each have skills for processing stress

Maybe the laundry was left unwashed or something was said the wrong way, and the next thing you know a big fight breaks out. The funny thing is, big fights are almost never really about the issue that started them. Sometimes they’re the result of unaddressed disagreements or unacknowledged hurts, but many times they get triggered by high levels of everyday stress.

Researchers have found that stress from outside a relationship is a key driver of stress inside that relationship. So, if a couple has the tools to manage outside stress—from meditation and strong external social support to exercise and a good sleep routine—then their relational stress will be much lower.

Take this simple stress test to see how much stress you’ve been under recently. If you and your partner are ready for some new stress management tools, join our Flourish Pillar Pathway, take our Flourish Masterclass, and join us for Wednesday Wind-Downs.

5 Things Friday: 5 Signs Your Life Partnership Is on the Right Track

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5 Things Friday: 5 Signs Your Life Partnership Is on the Right Track

Marriage and life partnerships aren’t easy, but we have some evidence-based signs to tell us whether we’re headed in the right direction.

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Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, it’s five ways to tell whether your life partnership/marriage is headed in the right direction.

Sociologists have pointed out for decades that marriage and the nuclear family have the odds stacked against them. For the vast majority of human history, we all lived in tight-knit communities with many different kinds of relationships and responsibilities. For example, raising kids was something that was naturally spread out between grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, and neighbors.

Today, all of the relationships and responsibilities are the burden of two people (that is if we’re lucky). It’s no wonder that modern marriage is so hard. It’s an experiment that’s only a few hundred years old.

Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs researchers and practitioners have discovered that can help us gauge how our marriage or life partnership is doing.  

Sign #1: You have a deep friendship with each other

Dr. John Gottman, the world-renowned relationship researcher, argues that great marriages are like a well-built house with a solid foundation of deep friendship. This friendship, in his model, is made of a rich understanding of each others’ backgrounds and personalities (“love maps” in Gottman’s words), and nurturing “fondness and admiration” for each other.

How do you know if you have a deep friendship with your partner? The first step is taking stock of how well each of you understands the background and personality of the other. What triggers each of you? What childhood traumas do you each carry? What puts you each in the flow, and what brings you down?

The second step is becoming aware of how much “fondness and admiration” you actually have for each other. Here’s a quiz from the Gottman Institute to check on the level of fondness and admiration you have for your partner.

The good news is that all of this is changeable. By taking the time to ask questions, listen, and tell stories, you can build a rich understanding of your partner; and by proactively expressing fondness and admiration you can actually generate these feelings.

Sign #2: You're playful with each other

Couples that play together, stay together. Research suggests that playfulness between couples supports strong relationships in several different ways. Before outlining these let’s define what researchers mean by playfulness. One researcher developed a model for understanding playfulness with the acronym OLIW: Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual, and Whimsical. Playfulness is always with another person, so it’s other-directed. It’s a clear recognition that the stakes at hand are low, so it’s lighthearted. Playfulness can be seen in interest in ideas for their own sake, so it can be intellectual. And finally, playful people take joy in oddities and the extraordinary, so playfulness can be whimsical.

Playfulness supports romantic relationships in at least four ways. First, playfulness helps by giving us positive emotions while we’re with our partners. The more we experience positive emotions with our partners, the more we associate these good feelings with being around our partners in the absence of play.

Second, play helps couples learn about each other. Play in all animals has a learning component to it and this is likely at work in us humans. Third, it helps release tension. Obviously, life isn’t all fun and games. But when couples engage in more playfulness, it’s easier to weather the tough times.

Finally, playfulness improves our communication skills. Through play, couples learn how to express and listen to each other in a variety of different ways (and when the stakes are low and positive emotions high).  

Sign #3: You feel like a team

Teamwork makes the dream work. When couples have a strong shared understanding of themselves and each other, psychologists find that they have more affection for each other, higher relationship satisfaction, and stay together longer. This sense of “we-ness” helps to shape our individual identities into shared identities, provides us with a sense of shared purpose and meaning, and gives us a source of combined wisdom.

How do you know if you and your partner are a team? According to these researchers, you can tell by how much and how well you and your partner talk about and agree on major aspects of life like child-rearing, finances, and domestic life, and how often you both set aside time to talk about big and meaningful things to you both like life goals and deep fears and vulnerabilities.  

Sign #4: You argue with respect and commitment

The arguments are inevitable. In fact, they’re a positive sign that you’re both authentically expressing yourselves! No arguments often mean repression, which leads to worse outcomes down the road. The key to a thriving relationship then is in how couples argue.

According to Dr. Gottman, nearly all divorced couples began arguments with harsh, critical, and incurious language. But the couples who began with curiosity, owning some responsibility, and stating needs without blaming went on to resolve many conflicts and build stronger relationships.

Sign #5: You each have skills for processing stress

Maybe the laundry was left unwashed or something was said the wrong way, and the next thing you know a big fight breaks out. The funny thing is, big fights are almost never really about the issue that started them. Sometimes they’re the result of unaddressed disagreements or unacknowledged hurts, but many times they get triggered by high levels of everyday stress.

Researchers have found that stress from outside a relationship is a key driver of stress inside that relationship. So, if a couple has the tools to manage outside stress—from meditation and strong external social support to exercise and a good sleep routine—then their relational stress will be much lower.

Take this simple stress test to see how much stress you’ve been under recently. If you and your partner are ready for some new stress management tools, join our Flourish Pillar Pathway, take our Flourish Masterclass, and join us for Wednesday Wind-Downs.

Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, it’s five ways to tell whether your life partnership/marriage is headed in the right direction.

Sociologists have pointed out for decades that marriage and the nuclear family have the odds stacked against them. For the vast majority of human history, we all lived in tight-knit communities with many different kinds of relationships and responsibilities. For example, raising kids was something that was naturally spread out between grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, and neighbors.

Today, all of the relationships and responsibilities are the burden of two people (that is if we’re lucky). It’s no wonder that modern marriage is so hard. It’s an experiment that’s only a few hundred years old.

Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs researchers and practitioners have discovered that can help us gauge how our marriage or life partnership is doing.  

Sign #1: You have a deep friendship with each other

Dr. John Gottman, the world-renowned relationship researcher, argues that great marriages are like a well-built house with a solid foundation of deep friendship. This friendship, in his model, is made of a rich understanding of each others’ backgrounds and personalities (“love maps” in Gottman’s words), and nurturing “fondness and admiration” for each other.

How do you know if you have a deep friendship with your partner? The first step is taking stock of how well each of you understands the background and personality of the other. What triggers each of you? What childhood traumas do you each carry? What puts you each in the flow, and what brings you down?

The second step is becoming aware of how much “fondness and admiration” you actually have for each other. Here’s a quiz from the Gottman Institute to check on the level of fondness and admiration you have for your partner.

The good news is that all of this is changeable. By taking the time to ask questions, listen, and tell stories, you can build a rich understanding of your partner; and by proactively expressing fondness and admiration you can actually generate these feelings.

Sign #2: You're playful with each other

Couples that play together, stay together. Research suggests that playfulness between couples supports strong relationships in several different ways. Before outlining these let’s define what researchers mean by playfulness. One researcher developed a model for understanding playfulness with the acronym OLIW: Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual, and Whimsical. Playfulness is always with another person, so it’s other-directed. It’s a clear recognition that the stakes at hand are low, so it’s lighthearted. Playfulness can be seen in interest in ideas for their own sake, so it can be intellectual. And finally, playful people take joy in oddities and the extraordinary, so playfulness can be whimsical.

Playfulness supports romantic relationships in at least four ways. First, playfulness helps by giving us positive emotions while we’re with our partners. The more we experience positive emotions with our partners, the more we associate these good feelings with being around our partners in the absence of play.

Second, play helps couples learn about each other. Play in all animals has a learning component to it and this is likely at work in us humans. Third, it helps release tension. Obviously, life isn’t all fun and games. But when couples engage in more playfulness, it’s easier to weather the tough times.

Finally, playfulness improves our communication skills. Through play, couples learn how to express and listen to each other in a variety of different ways (and when the stakes are low and positive emotions high).  

Sign #3: You feel like a team

Teamwork makes the dream work. When couples have a strong shared understanding of themselves and each other, psychologists find that they have more affection for each other, higher relationship satisfaction, and stay together longer. This sense of “we-ness” helps to shape our individual identities into shared identities, provides us with a sense of shared purpose and meaning, and gives us a source of combined wisdom.

How do you know if you and your partner are a team? According to these researchers, you can tell by how much and how well you and your partner talk about and agree on major aspects of life like child-rearing, finances, and domestic life, and how often you both set aside time to talk about big and meaningful things to you both like life goals and deep fears and vulnerabilities.  

Sign #4: You argue with respect and commitment

The arguments are inevitable. In fact, they’re a positive sign that you’re both authentically expressing yourselves! No arguments often mean repression, which leads to worse outcomes down the road. The key to a thriving relationship then is in how couples argue.

According to Dr. Gottman, nearly all divorced couples began arguments with harsh, critical, and incurious language. But the couples who began with curiosity, owning some responsibility, and stating needs without blaming went on to resolve many conflicts and build stronger relationships.

Sign #5: You each have skills for processing stress

Maybe the laundry was left unwashed or something was said the wrong way, and the next thing you know a big fight breaks out. The funny thing is, big fights are almost never really about the issue that started them. Sometimes they’re the result of unaddressed disagreements or unacknowledged hurts, but many times they get triggered by high levels of everyday stress.

Researchers have found that stress from outside a relationship is a key driver of stress inside that relationship. So, if a couple has the tools to manage outside stress—from meditation and strong external social support to exercise and a good sleep routine—then their relational stress will be much lower.

Take this simple stress test to see how much stress you’ve been under recently. If you and your partner are ready for some new stress management tools, join our Flourish Pillar Pathway, take our Flourish Masterclass, and join us for Wednesday Wind-Downs.

Every Friday, we bring you five related things, ideas, facts, or practices that we hope will make your parenting journey a little easier. This week, it’s five ways to tell whether your life partnership/marriage is headed in the right direction.

Sociologists have pointed out for decades that marriage and the nuclear family have the odds stacked against them. For the vast majority of human history, we all lived in tight-knit communities with many different kinds of relationships and responsibilities. For example, raising kids was something that was naturally spread out between grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, and neighbors.

Today, all of the relationships and responsibilities are the burden of two people (that is if we’re lucky). It’s no wonder that modern marriage is so hard. It’s an experiment that’s only a few hundred years old.

Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs researchers and practitioners have discovered that can help us gauge how our marriage or life partnership is doing.  

Sign #1: You have a deep friendship with each other

Dr. John Gottman, the world-renowned relationship researcher, argues that great marriages are like a well-built house with a solid foundation of deep friendship. This friendship, in his model, is made of a rich understanding of each others’ backgrounds and personalities (“love maps” in Gottman’s words), and nurturing “fondness and admiration” for each other.

How do you know if you have a deep friendship with your partner? The first step is taking stock of how well each of you understands the background and personality of the other. What triggers each of you? What childhood traumas do you each carry? What puts you each in the flow, and what brings you down?

The second step is becoming aware of how much “fondness and admiration” you actually have for each other. Here’s a quiz from the Gottman Institute to check on the level of fondness and admiration you have for your partner.

The good news is that all of this is changeable. By taking the time to ask questions, listen, and tell stories, you can build a rich understanding of your partner; and by proactively expressing fondness and admiration you can actually generate these feelings.

Sign #2: You're playful with each other

Couples that play together, stay together. Research suggests that playfulness between couples supports strong relationships in several different ways. Before outlining these let’s define what researchers mean by playfulness. One researcher developed a model for understanding playfulness with the acronym OLIW: Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual, and Whimsical. Playfulness is always with another person, so it’s other-directed. It’s a clear recognition that the stakes at hand are low, so it’s lighthearted. Playfulness can be seen in interest in ideas for their own sake, so it can be intellectual. And finally, playful people take joy in oddities and the extraordinary, so playfulness can be whimsical.

Playfulness supports romantic relationships in at least four ways. First, playfulness helps by giving us positive emotions while we’re with our partners. The more we experience positive emotions with our partners, the more we associate these good feelings with being around our partners in the absence of play.

Second, play helps couples learn about each other. Play in all animals has a learning component to it and this is likely at work in us humans. Third, it helps release tension. Obviously, life isn’t all fun and games. But when couples engage in more playfulness, it’s easier to weather the tough times.

Finally, playfulness improves our communication skills. Through play, couples learn how to express and listen to each other in a variety of different ways (and when the stakes are low and positive emotions high).  

Sign #3: You feel like a team

Teamwork makes the dream work. When couples have a strong shared understanding of themselves and each other, psychologists find that they have more affection for each other, higher relationship satisfaction, and stay together longer. This sense of “we-ness” helps to shape our individual identities into shared identities, provides us with a sense of shared purpose and meaning, and gives us a source of combined wisdom.

How do you know if you and your partner are a team? According to these researchers, you can tell by how much and how well you and your partner talk about and agree on major aspects of life like child-rearing, finances, and domestic life, and how often you both set aside time to talk about big and meaningful things to you both like life goals and deep fears and vulnerabilities.  

Sign #4: You argue with respect and commitment

The arguments are inevitable. In fact, they’re a positive sign that you’re both authentically expressing yourselves! No arguments often mean repression, which leads to worse outcomes down the road. The key to a thriving relationship then is in how couples argue.

According to Dr. Gottman, nearly all divorced couples began arguments with harsh, critical, and incurious language. But the couples who began with curiosity, owning some responsibility, and stating needs without blaming went on to resolve many conflicts and build stronger relationships.

Sign #5: You each have skills for processing stress

Maybe the laundry was left unwashed or something was said the wrong way, and the next thing you know a big fight breaks out. The funny thing is, big fights are almost never really about the issue that started them. Sometimes they’re the result of unaddressed disagreements or unacknowledged hurts, but many times they get triggered by high levels of everyday stress.

Researchers have found that stress from outside a relationship is a key driver of stress inside that relationship. So, if a couple has the tools to manage outside stress—from meditation and strong external social support to exercise and a good sleep routine—then their relational stress will be much lower.

Take this simple stress test to see how much stress you’ve been under recently. If you and your partner are ready for some new stress management tools, join our Flourish Pillar Pathway, take our Flourish Masterclass, and join us for Wednesday Wind-Downs.

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