It’s reporting the studies made of married couples who have either broken up or stayed together. Those who have stayed together, habitually shared their partner’s joy and gave them attention. These were small things, but they ended up being hugely important. Those who broke up or were unhappy, were constantly scanning for faults in the partner.
This should be a sort of “well, of course” thing, but I have to say that I could all of a sudden see a certain pattern in my past relationships. The bad thing with habits is that they blend into the background and you don’t even notice that you’re doing it. Being sarcastic and mocking might feel like a lighthearted thing to do, but could actually cause distrust.
Here are some excerpts:
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”
There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.
Thank you so much for sharing this article. I wholeheartedly agree with what it has to say, and have to admit that I don’t always use “kindness” when I am frustrated in relationships. As you mentioned, it should be common sense, but sometimes is not always the first behavior we act on. Good, kind communication is something I am working on, and am grateful to hear that it can grow strong with exercise. Kindness as a muscle…what a great analogy. I hope to strengthen mine. Thanks again!
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