Three Steps to a Great Marriage

What is the key to having a great marriage? The latest research shows us that people who have successful relationships say far more positive things to their partners than negative things. Here’s the big news for all you people struggling in your relationships. Science has now proved the obvious: the key to a happy marriage is to be nice.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman, one of the world’s leading relationship experts, videotaped thousands of couples. They tried to discover if there were any consistent patterns in the couples who stayed together and those that broke up. This is where they discovered what they call the “magic ratio.” Couples needed to say five nice things for every rotten statement to keep the domestic bliss flowing.

If the key to a good marriage is being nice, how do you do that?

First of all, every day you should think of something wonderful about your partner and tell them. This may be hard at first, but you can get better with practice. Try to make it something more than, “I appreciate that you are a good driver.” Try to put some real passion into your appreciations. Something like, “I adore how funny you are. When you make me laugh, it really turns me on.”

Second, listen. Sure your partner is a pain in the butt. Everyone is. And they are probably crazy in their way. But who isn’t? Spend some time paying attention to them, and trying to understand things from their point of view. How many hours do you work, and how much time do you spend looking in your partners eyes and listening to them?

Third, touch your partner. You don’t have to be sexual to touch. We all live stressed out lives. Everyone could use a free backrub, without having to give anything in return.

Imagine if you came home and your partner told you how great you were, sat down with you, smiled, looked in your eyes and asked about your day, and then said, let me give you a backrub. If that sounds good, maybe you should do that for them. You never know what you might get in the long run for being nice. Maybe a great marriage.


Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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One comment

  1. Yes, being nice, it seems an outmoded way of being in our culture. Rudeness has become the norm. In fact, sometimes being nice is denigrated as in, “You are too nice,” “Quit being so nice.” Harmony in relationships IS truly simple…be nice….listen…care…take an actual interest in your partner’s life and reality. We feel Loved when we are Seen by another. Thanks, Glenn.