2 Things Your Relationships MUST Have


More than any other, this is the time of year when we think of the important people in our lives. We realize how important relationships really are. All the material success in the world means little if you have no one to share it with.

The world is flooded with relationship advice. And while I am no expert, I’ve certainly interviewed more than my share of experts for the radio show I do. While each of them has their own take on what makes a relationship successful, I like the simplicity of the advice from Dr. John Gottman. He and his wife Julie run the Gottman Institute. They have interviewed thousands of couples to understand what causes relationships to succeed and to fail.

When you boil it all down, it comes to two traits:
•    Kindness
•    Generosity
If you express those two things in your relationship, you are in good shape. If you don’t, you are in trouble.

Kindness is the glue that holds relationships together. Gottman says kindness is a muscle that you have to keep in shape. In other words, you have to continually be kind – not just now and then. When you are, it leads to reciprocal kindness which launches an upward spiral of love and generosity.

What’s also fascinating is the importance of shared joy. If we cannot share in the excitement of our partner’s good news, it almost always leads to problems. Interestingly, we hear a lot about the importance of “being there” for someone during the tough times. Gottman says the  research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for the relationship.  How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences.

Relationships also seem to simply wear out. When your partner expresses a need and you don’t give him or her your full attention, you are eroding the relationship. Ignoring the small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at what you’ve built.  Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment.

Contempt appears to be the number one factor that destroys relationships. People who are determined to criticize their partner miss most of the positive things their partner does – and sees negativity when it isn’t actually there. You see what you want to see.

And it gets worse. When you ignore or dismiss your partner, you make them feel invisible and worthless. When you criticize and complain you kill the love. And there is evidence that expressing contempt toward your mate inhibits their ability to fight off disease, including viruses and cancer.

While I don’t remember who it was, I interviewed another relationship expert who gave a piece of advice that I always remember and try to do. He said that at those moments when your partner asks you to take out the trash or do the dishes, how often have you whined and complained and then did it anyway?  His point is that if you don’t want to take out the trash, then don’t. But, if you are going to do it anyway, why not do it with a smile on your face? Why introduce negativity into the situation when it serves absolutely no purpose except to cause friction? These are the kind of things that quietly kill off closeness.

While this post has been about marriages and romantic relationships, I think it generally applies to other family relationships and friendships. Kindness and generosity are the magic ingredients. They are not hard – and in fact, the more you express them, the more you want to.

Please let me know your thoughts on this – by expressing your comments in the box at the very bottom of this web page. I would appreciate it. And I hope if you like this post, you will share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy Holidays!
photo credit: Denkrahm via photopin cc


2 things your relationships must have.

Related Posts

Christine Carter

How To Slow Down To Get More Done (Podcast Episode 21)

Being really busy means you are important and that you are getting a lot of things done – right? Not really. Not necessarily. Being busy just means you are busy. So what if you could actually accomplish more by doing less? Christine Carter says that is not only possible, it is necessary.

The Brilliant Idea of Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing. It is when an organization takes a task and outsources it to an undefined network or people in the form of an “open call.” Facebook is an example of crowdsourcing. Millions of users provide all the content that makes Facebook interesting.

word of mouth

How Word-of-Mouth Marketing Really Works (Podcast Episode 20)

Word-of- mouth. It’s long been touted as the best form of advertising. When you can get people to talk to their friends about your product or service, amazing things can happen. But how does it all work? Why do some products attract that viral type of attention while others don’t? Is it intentional

effort or talent

Effort or Talent – What’s More Important?

Call it grit or determination or something else. – it is what fuels our desire to go after and complete a goal. Sadly, it seems in the last few generations, we haven’t preached the virtues of grit. There seem to be a few reasons why. First of all there has been this idea that if […]


  1. Shara Buttars says:

    Love that advice and my husband and I have practiced that our 33 years of marriage – It’s all about the golden rule…Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

Speak Your Mind