This has been a good week. Last Friday three friends from the US came and babysat the boys while Laura and I went to Lake Balaton for the night. We had a blast! (Thanks Liz, Katherine, and Kami!) It was a really great time of relaxing and talking by the lake. It has been a year since we’ve had the chance to get away like that. What in the world?
This getaway prompted us to think about marriage this week. It’s easy to let our home-life revolve around the kids and around parenting. Life keeps moving and it is also easy to neglect or overlook the importance of our marriage. I’ve said it before, but it is easy to let marriage slip into “cruise-control.”
Today I spent some time with a friend thinking about what makes for a healthy marriage. John Gottman has a fantastic book entitled “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail” which sheds some unusual light upon this subject. Gottman writes, “…happiness isn’t found in a particular style of fighting or making up. Rather, our research suggests that what really seperates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other.”
In fact, after studying 2000 married couples, Gottman found a very specific ratio for healthy, lasting marriages. “That magic ratio is 5 to 1…..as long as there is five times as much positive feeling and interaction between husband and wife as there is negative, we found the marriage is likely to be stable.” He continues to say that based upon this ratio he is able to predict, with a high degree of accuracy, whether or not a marriage will endure.
Well finally, we have a mathematical formula to solve the problem of marriage! 🙂 Actually it makes a lot of sense, and this is why “cruise-control” is so dangerous for marriages.
Now my friend had a good point today. He said, “This seems a little artificial. I can imagine a wife becoming overwhelmed or irritated as the husband is attempting to throw so many positive things her way and keeping track of his “ratio” all the while.” Yep. Great point. Laura never likes it when I pull out my “ratio” chart. 🙂 Just kidding. I really don’t have a “ratio” chart. But this raises the question of authenticity and how marriages change for the better.
For me, even an akward, somewhat forced positive gesture comes from an authentic desire to grow and improve. With time and practice these akward and seemingly inauthentic acts can become genuine expressions of the heart. We’re talking about the heart afterall.
So we’re having a great time nurturing our marriage this week, learning and re-learning, and accentuating the positive.