When it comes to establishing and maintaining relationships, is it better for you to start with mistrust or to extend the benefit of the doubt with reasonable caution as you emphasize what you appreciate about another person? The answer will determine the quality of your relationships.
The Gottman’s Get It
John Gottman predicts relationship longevity with 94% accuracy. Dr. Gottman studied over 3,000 couples in 12 different longitudinal studies – 7 of which were prediction studies – that has allowed him to identify specific behavior patterns in couples he has termed the “Masters” and “Disasters” of relationships.
What did they learn? There are three keys to relationship vitality, three behaviors that are the predictive keys to making a relationship last.
Key #1: Express Interest
When you partner is inviting you into their world, into their interests, you will either handle the moment dismissively or with real interest. Listening to your partner at the end of the day with love and interest is one way to express interest.
What does this have to do with mistrust? Don’t miss this point.
If you live in fear, you will tend to criticize when your partner needs you to affirm. You’ll miss the moments, the opportunity to connect when they need you to connect. Your mistrust, your general fear of the world and your partner will kill the bonding moment that happens when you express interest, real interest in your partners interests.
Key #2: Be Gentle in Conflict
If you mistrust the motives of your partner, you will tend to overreact in conflict situations and miss yet another opportunity to move your relationship towards health. Blame, criticism, focusing on your own needs destroys relationships.
As one article said,
The Masters handled conflict with mutual respect, humor, interest, openness, they accepted influenced, and they acknowledged their partner’s ideas or feelings. These positive responses consistently were found to be at a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative, as opposed to the Disasters, who had a positive to negative ratio of 0.8:1.
Key #3: Repair the Damage
When there is a breakdown, take responsibility. If you simply can’t due to deeply held shame issues or arrogance, you will never restore trust. Those who essentially mistrust the world, the opposite gender and are looking for confirmation that their partner is flawed, will see their relationships get worse and worse until they end.
Dr. Gottman says that,
“Conflict is an opportunity to learn how to love each other better over time.”
Conflict can be that opportunity unless you view life through the lens of mistrust.
Give Up Mistrust As a Way of Seeing Life
If life, you eventually get what you expect. If you’re looking for flaws, you’ll find them. If you tend to appreciate your partner on a regular basis, you’ll make deposits in the emotional bank account rather than take out withdrawals.
Isn’t it time to reconsider mistrust as a way of life?