February 9th to 16th, 2003.
National Marriage Week launches The Quest to find Britain's No.1 Couple.
We know how successful couples treat each other, and we know something of the frustration experienced by couples who love each other, but find that their relationship suffers because seemingly almost by accident they really irritate each other.
John Gottman has uncovered what makes marriages fail, what makes them succeed, and what can make marriages a source of great meaning. By examining partners, heart rates, facial expressions, and how they talk about their relationship to each other and to other people, Dr Gottman is able to predict with more than 90% accuracy which couples will make it, and which will not.
Couples want their marriages to be life giving, and are often frustrated because they do not know how to make a poor marriage good or a good marriage better. To meet the challenge of communicating practical and applicable tips, we are launching the quest to find Britain's No. 1 couple. This cheeky slightly tongue in cheek search has at its heart the aim of communicating the key attributes and skills found in life giving marriages to the nation. We want to highlight some really positive role models and unpack some great stories, and you can help us to find the winning couple by nominating the couple who you think could be Britain's No. 1 couple.
We are looking for couples who can explain how they demonstrate Dr Gottman's Top Tips. Since 1973, Dr John Gottman has studied what he calls the "masters and disasters" of marriage. Ordinary people from the general public took part in long-term studies, and Dr Gottman learned what makes marriages fail, what makes them succeed, and what can make marriages a source of great meaning.
Couples who avoid saying every angry thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest.
Soften your "start up".
Arguments first "start up" because a spouse sometimes escalates the conflict by making a critical or contemptuous remark in a confrontational tone.
A marriage succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife. If a woman says, "Do you have to work Thursday night? My mother is coming that weekend, and I need your help getting ready," and her husband replies, "My plans are set, and I'm not changing them," this guy is in a shaky marriage. A husband's ability to be persuaded by his wife (rather than vice-versa) is so crucial because, research shows, women are already well practised at accepting influence from men, and a true partnership only occurs when a husband is able to do so as well.
Have high standards.
Happy couples have high standards for each other even as newlyweds. The most successful couples are those who, even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behaviour from one another. The lower the level of tolerance for bad behaviour in the beginning of a relationship, the happier the couple is down the road.
Learn to repair and exit the argument.
Successful couples know how to exit an argument. Happy couples know how to repair the situation before an argument gets completely out of control. Successful repair attempts include:
Changing the topic to something completely unrelated; using humour; calming your partner with a caring remark ("I understand that this is hard for you"); making it clear you're on common ground ("this is our problem"); backing down, you have to yield to win; and, in general, offering signs of appreciation for your partner and his or her feelings along the way ("I really appreciate and want to thank you for..."). If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.
Focus on the bright side.
In a happy marriage, couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship ("We laugh a lot") as opposed to negative ones ("We never have fun"). A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity. Make deposits to your emotional bank account.
The winning couple will be selected by a panel and announced as a key part of the National Marriage Week Press Launch. Prizes and process for nomination will be posted at www.nmw.org.uk
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