The authors of a brand new guide on long-term relationships have some science-based recommendation for sustaining a stable partnership.
Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts (Tarcher Books, 2018), from husband-and-wife staff James Pawelski, a thinker and professor of follow within the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, and science author Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, applies Aristotle’s concepts and the sphere of constructive psychology to modern-day relationships.
“Aristotle claims we humans love three basic kinds of things: those that are useful, those that are pleasurable, and those that are good,” Pawelski says. “And he points to a type of friendship that corresponds to each love.”
Useful friendships spring up between acquaintances like enterprise companions and are born of necessity and comfort. Pleasurable friendships are based mostly on the enjoyment that comes from spending time collectively. The third sort—and in Aristotle’s philosophy probably the most mature and fascinating—is friendship based mostly on goodness.
“We don’t actually want someone who can’t breathe if they’re not with us.”
“We see the good character in someone and it makes us want to be around that person,” Pawelski says. “It can also inspire us to want to become better ourselves.”
In the guide, Pawelski and Pileggi Pawelski take a twist on this third sort of friendship, seeing it by means of the lens of a dedicated, loving relationship. With that as a framework, they apply the principle tenets of constructive psychology to create a roadmap for a wholesome, sturdy, and satisfying relationship.
“There is much more focus in our culture today on getting together rather than on being together, and on continuing to be happy together,” says Pileggi Pawelski. “What happens after the happily-ever-after? A wedding day is magical, but what about all the days and years to come?”
Here Pawelski and Pileggi Pawelski supply 5 suggestions for companions in all levels of a relationship, from these simply beginning out to married a few years in:
1. Foster ardour, not obsession. In the start levels of a standard relationship, companions typically really feel a robust need for each other. As time progresses, nonetheless, such ardour and preoccupation is usually a signal of obsession and lead to lack of individuality.
“We don’t actually want someone who can’t breathe if they’re not with us,” Pawelski says. In a wholesome relationship, these emotions morph right into a deep love that permits every particular person to keep up friendships and hobbies and an general sense of identification. “If you feel like you’ve lost yourself—and often it’s friends who first notice—it’s important to recall those interests and activities you were involved with before your relationship,” he provides. “That can help balance you out.”
2. Put the constructive first. Positive psychology contends that constructive feelings can assist folks flourish, however “we can’t just wait for them to happen,” Pileggi Pawelski says. “Couples that are the happiest actively nurture these emotions.” Doing so takes follow and requires greedy that these sentiments fall on a continuum, from these of excessive arousal like ardour, amusement, and pleasure (typically skilled at the beginning of a relationship) to calmer feelings like serenity, gratitude, and inspiration. If cultivating these feels unnatural, she suggests “prioritizing positivity,” which implies scheduling the forms of actions into your day that naturally result in experiencing these feelings.
three. Savor the great, reframe the unhealthy. “Positive emotions tend to exist in spades at the beginning of a relationship,” Pawelski says. “But we eventually have to go to work, get the car fixed—real life kicks in.” When that occurs, he provides, we will wind up harping on the issues, the facets of our companions that come to trouble or annoy us. Instead, he recommends reintroducing stability by consciously specializing in the shared constructive moments and experiences—previous, current, and future—and deliberately shifting away from the unfavorable. Doing so can “lengthen and strengthen” wholesome feelings.
four. Play to one another’s strengths. Partners typically dwell extra on one another’s weaknesses than strengths. Pileggi Pawelski recommends that uncover every particular person’s prime 5 character strengths, generally known as “signature strengths” after which plan dates that emphasize one from every companion. For instance, if one particular person’s prime power is zest and the opposite’s is love of studying, they may take a Segway tour round a historic metropolis to interact each.
“Research shows that when you’re exercising what you’re naturally good at, your individual well-being tends to go up,” she says. “This activity allows you to come together as a couple to exercise strengths from both partners. It’s a unique and powerful way to approach dates.”
5. Get grateful. “As we move further into a relationship, we may begin taking our partners for granted. Gratitude is one way to help us continue seeing the goodness in the other person,” Pawelski says.
To that finish, it’s essential to precise that feeling by using what’s referred to as other-focused gratitude, which shifts the eye from “I” to “you.” Instead of appreciation said with phrasing like, ‘Thank you for taking care of our child when I needed to finish this project,’ it’s stated as, ‘Once again you stepped in. You are such a kind and thoughtful person.’
“This can begin a whole conversation about what aspect of the interaction our partner really valued,” Pawelski says. “Except in fairy tales, ‘Happily Ever After’ doesn’t just happen. Practicing these tips can help us develop the healthy habits needed to continue to be happy together.”