Sara Paules, MA, LPC
Although it might sound obvious, the amount of fondness and admiration you have for your partner can say a lot about the health of your relationship. Specifically, the way you remember your relationship's origins can be a strong predictor of whether or not it will withstand the test of time. When times are stressful, couples who still think of their relationship fondly are able to survive and thrive.
According to Dr. John Gottman, one of the leading relationship experts in the world, one of the biggest predictors of relationship success is how you look back at the first part of your relationship. Some questions couples can ask themselves to assess their level of fondness and admiration for their partner might be:
1. When you think back to when you and your partner first started dating, what do you remember? What stands out the most about this time period?
2. How did you feel about him/her when you first met?
Write out as many details describing your love story's origin and read it back to yourself. Notice what themes or emotions stand out to you. Does your story stand out as overall positive, warm, or affectionate? Or does it seem cold, distant or lacking or emotion?
For example, couples who share positive love stories might mention things like how they “felt like they had known him/her forever”, “couldn’t stand being apart from him/her”, “were so nervous to impress him/her”, or how they “knew right away that he/she was the one they wanted to spend the rest of their life with”.
Couples who have an overall positive love story origin are considered healthy and still have the strength to make their relationship work when times get hard.
Contrary, couples whose love stories have been tainted by negativity in the relationship, tend to view their early stages of their love story as negative with little to no affection at all. An example of this might be someone who remembers only that their parents made them get together with them, felt like they were pressured into the relationship or don't remember many details at all about the origin of their relationship.
Dr. Gottman explains that couples who do not look back at their relationships fondly, tend to have a very high likelihood of divorce.
Curious as to where you and your partner stand? Check out Dr. Gottman’s “Fondness and Admiration Quiz” If your relationship is low on fondness and admiration, the good news is you can still bring your relationship back to vitality.
One of my favorite ideas is one I’ve adapted from Dr. Gottman, the “I Appreciate You” exercise which you can find here.
Sara Paules, LPC
Mindful Soul Center