Saving or Enhancing your Marriage!
Are you having a rough time in your marriage? Does it seem as if familiarity is breeding contempt between you and your spouse? Have things gotten to be long on criticism but short on affection? Is there a noticeable lack of laughter, or even sex? Are you, or both of you, simply feeling “bored” in the relationship? If this sounds far too much like your marriage, you ought to become aware of the five-to-one “love ratio”.
What’s this “love ratio”, and what have numbers got to do with love of all things? The five-to-one love ratio is very real and has been well researched beginning with the work of relationship therapist Dr. John Gottman. This research tells that while there’s no such thing as some “perfect” marriage, there is indeed a special, even magical, ratio between loving or affectionate experiences or interactions to confrontational, antagonistic, or criticizing experiences and interactions within a truly happy, lasting marriage.
This magic “love ratio” is five-to-one: that is, in a happy, healthy, sustained marriage for every slight, argument, or confrontation between the spouses there are at least five affectionate, loving, or playful experiences or interactions between them. These latter, better interactions may include but are not limited to having sex.
In marriages that seem to be falling apart, this magic love ratio is out of whack. There are too many painful, divisive experiences and too few loving or reconciling experiences — in fact, the magic ratio may even be inverted.
How Can You Have Five Smiles for Every Tear?
It’s important if you find your marriage decaying that you focus on getting back to the magic five-to-one love ratio, which you probably had at the beginning of your relationship as it grew deeper. However, the worst thing you can do is attempt to force it or fake it.
Don’t try to get the magic love ratio back into the relationship through sex
There’s certainly nothing wrong with erotic interactions in a marriage! Unfortunately, if your love is on the rocks, you probably don’t feel like being all that sexual with your spouse right now. If a sexual experience happens you can “count” it as part of your five loving interactions, but you shouldn’t say “alright, we just hurled vicious insults at each other, so now we just need have intercourse five times and everything will be alright.” If your sex life is suffering, you first must get back the five-to-one love ratio in order to have the erotic passion blossom again.
Don’t fake agreement where there is none
If you really feel strongly about being opposed to something your spouse believes in or is doing, you can’t force yourself to like it just because you think it will save your marriage. Instead, ask your spouse about it. Get to the bottom of why your spouse holds this value that disturbs you so much. Clear the air by expressing your own feelings without going into warrior mode. Have the willingness to admit that you may be wrong, too. If you still can’t come to some agreement, figure out how you can live with your spouse’s choice.
Don’t give up your ferocious side and don’t demand it of your spouse, either
You’ve got to be able to stand up for yourself as an individual and your spouse needs to have that right respected by you, too. Becoming meek won’t get back the magic ratio and demanding that your spouse should cower into submission sure isn’t going to solve your problems either.
Stop fighting about money
Fights over money are the foremost root cause of divorce. Do whatever you need to do to end your hostility toward each other over monetary issues. Talk to a financial advisor, get credit counseling, etc. Take the money-fights off the table.
Re-learn how to love other things together
Place the focus on what you and your spouse share value-wise and have in common. What are the things outside of each other that you loved together when you first fell in love? What could you love together now? What could you learn to love together?
Start keeping a daily journal of sincerely loving interactions versus confrontations and antagonistic interactions. Every three weeks, review the journal pages to see if you’re getting back to your five-to-one ratio. If you’re not, talk to your spouse about what else you could work on…together.
This is just a short guide to restoring your marital love or passion. If you have persistent, complex marital problems, you may need to get outside help.
Caleb Frankford is a professional blogger that shares legal advice on divorce and family law situations. He writes for Campo Blumenfeld LLP Attorneys At Law, a divorce and family law firm in Milwaukee.