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Relationship Advice Tidbits (Breather Episode with Brad)

By Brad Kearns

I offer up memorable nuggets from some of the world’s leading relationship experts, including John Gottman, Harville Hendricks, and Esther Perel. When in conflict, call to mind the acronym WAIT: “Why Am I Talking?!” Understand Gottman’s profound assertion that at all times in relationship interactions, you are either operating as a team or not a team. There is no gray area. Even if the issue is, “hey, you’re kinda being a jerk right now,” this issue can be addressed and solved as a team (e.g., “let’s discuss what’s bugging you and work through it”.) Gottman also asserts that the start of a conversation (whether pleasant or contentious) predicts the direction the conversation ends up 95% of the time. Gottman mentions that his decades of studying couples reveals that healthy partnerships have a 20:1 ratio of positive comments to negative comments in everyday communication, and even during times of conflict they preserve a 5:1 ratio! Harville Hendricks says to establish a “zero negativity policy” to avoid raising people’s defenses. His most important relationship attributes are: Safety (to communicate your truth), Zero negativity, and dispensing Chronic Affirmations. Helen Fisher says successful long-term relationships show empathy, emotional control, and overlook negative attributes to emphasize the positive. Esther Perel says treat your partner like you would a top client: you have to woo them initially, and continue to treat them beautifully, because you know they can bail at any time. Don’t take partner for granted any more than you would a client. Great stuff, but often hard to embody in real life when you are too busy and too stressed. A UCLA study of DIWK (Double Income With Kids) reveals busy couples talk for only 35 minutes per week—and then mostly about logistics instead of levity or intimate conversations.

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