Have you ever been so excited to tell your spouse something, only to become frustrated when they don't react positively to your exciting news?

When you marry, you promise to love each other and stand by each other "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part." But you never say, "to find joy in your good news and sorrow in your bad news." The question is, why doesn't anyone include that in marital vows? Past research shows relationship satisfaction is heavily influenced by how couples react to each other's good news.

Emotional support is key in a healthy relationship. When you react positively to your spouse's good news, and comfort them in times of sorrow, it brings you closer together.

Relationship expert John Gottman has studied married couples for four decades. He says a successful relationship "comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity, or contempt, criticism and hostility?"

Make the bid

Gottman defined a couple's key to success in everyday interactions as "bids." Let me explain, if I made a beautiful, three-tiered cake, I'd "bid" for my husband's attention by asking him to come in the kitchen to admire it. I'd expect a positive exclamation about how wonderful it looks. However, he might be reluctant and offer no positive feedback because he was heavily immersed in his own activities.

In this case, I made the "bid" for his attention but he failed to deliver.

"If the majority of 'bids' between couples go unanswered or worse, dismissed with contempt, the union is doomed," Gootman said.

After decades of research and data collecting, Gottman found that couples who positively responded to their partner's "bids" connected well with their spouse's emotional needs and had a longer, more successful relationship than those who didn't.

Make the effort

Training yourself to react positively to your significant other's bids will increase satisfaction and affection within your relationship. But you have to make a genuine effort to see results.

Studies show positive reactions can be learned and will enhance your relationship. The key word? Learn. Being positive and aware of your partner's needs will take some work on your part to make it a habit, but doing so will be worth it.

The positive and the negative

Positive news usually outweighs negative four to one. When something good happens to your sweetheart, it's the perfect opportunity to build and strengthen your relationship. When your spouse shares bad news with you, there's not much you can do other than love them, hold them, support them and help them relieve their stress. Because positive occurances are more frequent, there are a lot more opportunities to bond and strengthen your relationship with your spouse.

Recognizing when to react

It's easy for you and your spouse to slip into a passive life when you're both busy. Keep your relationship vibrant and ensure it lasts forever by asking yourself these questions before reacting to your spouse's news:

  • How do I react when my spouse arrives home on an emotional high?

  • Do I only notice their positive news when I'm feeling happy too?

  • Have I ever expected my partner to react to my news when I don't take the time to react to theirs?

  • What kind of attitude do I have when I arrive home?

  • Does my attitude influence my partner and possibly keep them from sharing their good news?

Everyone has good news and bad news. The important thing is how you receive that news from a spouse, family member or friend. Be mindful of your reactions to your spouse, as they may determine how long your relationship lasts.

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