In his extensive career, Dr John Gottman developed mathematical models, scales, and formulas to identify the elements of stability in relationships and the interactive patterns that cause couples to divorce. We now know what makes relationship work and not.
Here are some fun and not so fun facts.
Dr John Gottman has completed over 12 longitudinal studies with over 3000 couples, the longest period couples were followed up was 20 years.
The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling predict early divorcing. When the 4 horsemen are present without an effective repair attempt, couples divorce an average of 5.6 years after the wedding.
Emotional withdrawal and anger predict later divorcing – an average of 16.2 years after the wedding.
67% of new parents experience a precipitous drop in couple satisfaction in the first three years of the baby’s life.
Diffuse physiological arousal or flooding occurs when the heart rate is 100 bpm or greater. People cannot think clearly and are likely to do things and says things they later regret. Instead of continuing a discussion, take a break and self-soothe for a minimum of 30 minutes.
When a discussion begins with criticism and/or sarcasm examples of a harsh start up, it will inevitably end on a negative note. 96% of the time, you can predict the outcome of a conversation based on the first three minutes of the interaction.
Not all conflict is the same, 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them. These problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face and stem from difference in values, beliefs, personality, cultural and family backgrounds. 16% of these perpetual problems can be become gridlocked where couples continue to spin there wheels on the issue with negative affect.
Stable relationships have 5 positives to every one negative interaction during conflicts, that’s right, even during conflict there are constructive interactions and behaviours that allow the conflict to be talked about and understood. When couples are just hanging out together and having normal everyday conversations that ratio is 20 positives to every 1 negative. Successful relationships are a rich soup of positivity whilst not ignoring issues or tensions. Unstable relationships have a ratio of .8 positives to 1 negative.
Couples that report high levels of relationship satisfaction turn toward each’s bids for connection 86% of the time. They notice and prioritise small moments of connection with their partner.
So welcome to the world of Gottman research and the amazing insights his research has brought to relationship across the world.
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