2 Secrets of Successful, Long-Lasting Relationships

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In fact, based on his observations, Gottman is now able to predict with 94 percent certainty which couples will remain together and which ones will not, regardless of whether they are straight or gay, with or without children, poor or rich. The secret lies with how couples respond to each other.

For example, a wife says, “Look at the incredible sunrise this morning! The clouds are pink and orange.” The husband may respond by ignoring the comment, making a noncommittal sound, telling his wife to stop bothering him, or going to look at the sunrise. In other words, the husband can either turn toward his wife (and make an emotional connection) or away from her (shutting her out).

Gottman did a six-year follow-up and found that couples who had divorced by that time had turned toward their partner (responded in a positive manner) only 33 percent of the time, while those who were still together had done so 87 percent of the time. Again, those who stayed together had displayed kindness and generosity toward each other in the majority of circumstances, while those who had split up had shown hostility and criticism most of the time.

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