The Secret of a Healthy Relationship

John Gottman’s 5:1 magic ratio for maintaining healthy relationships

There indeed exists a magic formula for maintaining healthy relationships between partners. And relationship researcher John Gottman decodes it perfectly. Read on.

A relationship can be the source of huge happiness and contentment or can be the reason for great sorrow and anguish. Truly, long-term relationships are one of the most important parts of our life. And yet, we try to extract happiness and fulfilment out of them without any conscious effort given. So, is there really any formula to sustain healthy and happy relationships?

Yes, according to relationship researcher John Gottman. He explains how there is a magic ratio – for each negative feeling or interaction between partners, there should be 5 positive feelings or interactions. Successful partner relationships tend to have a fine balance between positive and negative feelings and actions.

Lately, we hear more about break ups, divorces and marriage annulments, so there seems to be an urgent need to decode healthy long-term relationships. Expert Gottman along with Robert Levenson started this research in 1970s. They gave several couples 15 minutes to solve a conflicting situation and reviewed their tapes. They met the couples 9 years later and predicted which couples would stay together whereas which would fall apart with great accuracy. They found that stable and happy couples maintained their relationship by reinforcing more positive feelings than negative ones.

A relationship tends to become dysfunctional when the partners criticize each other, provide constant negative feedback, do not support each other, show disinterest towards each other without demonstrating enough affection or appreciation.

A long-term relationship requires nurturing and constant attention. When we become complacent enough to think that our relationships will grow and sustain on their own, challenges crop up. Remember, a happy relationship mainly depends on our attitude to give it our best. It is the cushion that helps us face many challenging situations in life.

Soulveda explains how John Gottman’s 5:1 magic ratio can be used for maintaining healthy relationships.

Show interest and appreciate

Do you show keen interest in what your partner says and does? We often take it for granted since a partner is there with us 24X7. We generally expect our partner to understand our other commitments and why we do not prioritize listening to their vents, small talks or chit-chats. In the long run, this spoils the faith and confidence they have in us.

We do not take into consideration that a partner too needs appreciation just like others – children, our co-workers etc. The most basic requirement here is to make eye contact while your partner is talking. This shows you are listening attentively and not looking at your phone or multi-tasking. The partner draws a lot of strength and gains confidence when the other one shows keen interest. The relationship also strengthens when communication flows freely and both partners receive attention.

Be more accepting

Steve Pavlina, a self-help book author from America says that he learned that accepting others and accepting himself are two sides of the same coin; ‘you can’t love and accept yourself without doing the same for others,’ he states.

Indeed, it is quite normal to have differences and disagreements with one’s partner . What is important in such frictions is to keep the dignity and respect for the partner alive. Even if you do not accept the divergent view, never make the mistake of labelling your partner as wrong. Nor must you make them feel like they do not deserve your attention just because your opinions differ. It is just that the other person is thinking or coming from a different perspective based on his or her experience or emotional journey.

Make a conscious effort to outline and appreciate your partner’s view. It may create wonders for your relationship when you display respect for your partner or when you come around and choose an altered perspective of life.

Keep the ‘us’ time

Humans are social animals and relationships are a result of evolution, survival and thriving in challenging situations.

Time and again, we keep reminding ourselves of taking that essential ‘me time’ for rejuvenating, but what about the other’s ‘me time’? However, simply respecting our partner’s ‘me time’ is not enough for a healthy relationship, one needs to spend quality ‘us time’ as well. This develops a steady foundation of positive emotions and beautiful moments, giving both a reason to stick together and face life’s challenges together.

This ‘us time’ can give a tremendous boost to the relationship, adding attention, gratitude and a willingness to share insecurities in the happy mix. Pulling up together is the best remedy against getting pulled apart, so devote time to spend quality life together.

Keep it light and lively

Always begin with a simple thought – what would you want as someone’s partner? Moments of happiness, shared joys, joking that isn’t hurtful and pleasant memories of time well spent together. In short, one wants to savour life together.

Having joyful moments while ignoring trivial issues help keep life light and lively. Performing activities that make the atmosphere exciting and full of energy also add to the fun. Partners from long term relationships admit that one must learn to make the best use of what one has to keep the magic alive.

A not so serious ‘ship’ of a loving relation also gets a lighthouse of hope as a reward, the kind that brings smiles even in rough oceans.

So, while it is important for partners to share their insecurities, it is just as essential to share feelings of excitement and positive experiences.

And definitely make it a point to mention if any light moments experienced are because of your partner because that will go a long way in making them feel cherished.


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person or one’s partner. But it is easier said than done. Understanding one’s own emotions and offering a channel of passage for others’ emotions is a tough ask. However, once mastered, empathy is like a magic herb which can heal all emotional wounds of oneself and one’s partner.

To be able to turn one’s attention to their partner and feel like them is a social force of the highest order, further building trust and belongingness. Empathetic partners experience more happiness, build stronger bonds, accept any given situation better and appreciate life more, lending much more to a healthy relationship.

In addition, the emotional capacity to absorb others’ feelings gives one an edge by developing emotionally connected responsiveness, that is a sign of being a great partner in a loving relationship.




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