Build Stronger Relationships Using the 5:1 Magic Formula

Maintaining a healthy relationship is always challenging. Throughout our childhood and teenage, we were taught from everything to the position of electrons in elements to black holes and quasars, but never given proper training in building healthy relationships. As a result, we keep wondering if there is a magic formula to fix our relationships.

Good news is, there is a magic formula to make any relationship stronger, thanks to renowned psychologist Dr John Gottman who dedicated decades observing couples measuring their every blip. Along with a team of mathematicians, he theorized that the ratio of positive interactions to negative ones that predict whether a marriage will last or end in divorce is 5:1.

According to psychologist Dr Rick Hanson, “negative information about someone is more memorable than positive information.” Hence he points out that, a healthy relationship “needs at least a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions”.

Gottman found that marriages fall into the danger zone when the ratio of positive to negative interactions falls below 5:1. The 5:1 ratio applies to other interpersonal relationships as well, such as friendship, teacher-student relationship, co-workers, dating, etc.,

Gottman identifies that negative interactions such as fights are highly necessary for any relationship to grow. However, his research revealed that, in conflicts, unhappy people add to the negative experience by attacking other person’s character, show contempt by insulting and by name-calling, sarcasm, defensiveness, and stonewalling when another person withdraws to avoid conflict.

On the other hand, happy couples seek to defuse tension with humour, expressing affection, conceding on certain points and validating their partner’s concerns.

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