Couples who last command admiration. How to love yourself 5, 10 or even 15 years after the start of a relationship? If an element of mystery persists, scientists believe they have found the answer.
To be satisfied with each other
To try to understand the durability of certain couples, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzed data from 192 heterosexual married couples. Their numerous “relationship maintenance” behaviors were analyzed (such as positivity, openness to others, self-confidence, use of social networks, sharing of domestic tasks, etc.); and each partner responded separately to an online survey.
Their perception of their partner’s behavior was also taken into account.
Result ? “In general, we found that people were relatively accurate about their partner’s maintenance behaviors. We also found that it is best to have an accurate perception when one is very satisfied. If you’re less satisfied, accurately perceiving your partner’s efforts may not be positive. And how accurately your partner perceives your behavior can make the feeling worse, because they are aware that you may not be doing much for the relationship” said Yifan Hu, a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS).
According to him, the satisfaction we feel with our partner is essential.
“When a stressful event occurs, a couple less satisfied with each other may be more likely to react negatively than a couple more satisfied in their relationship“, he added.
If Amélie Boukhobza, clinical psychologist, validates these research results, she indicates that being satisfied with oneself and one’s own life is also essential.
“Being generally satisfied in life allows you to evaluate your partner’s behavior more positively. It also allows you to evaluate everything more positively! If we are doing well, everything flows from it. If you are more fragile, everything can be the subject of doubt or even suspicion sometimes within the couple. It is clear that self-confidence enables confidence in others. And it goes round and round, meaning it then comes back to us as a reinforcement of our own self-confidence. The dynamic is positive“, she explains.
The difference nourishes
Another notable point of the study: similarity of behavior is not necessarily beneficial. To last over time, complementary approaches can be more saving, notes the study.
“Similarity in behavior may not be helpful in promoting the maintenance of an interactive relationship. One possible explanation is that partners who are too similar in approach have a more restricted repertoire of coping behaviors.” reveals Yifan Hu.
The researcher thus indicates that if the couple must work together, especially when they are faced with stressors, the use of different strategies can prove useful. For example, one partner may use positivity, while the other will use another skill.
“Indeed, there is no need for our behaviors to be similar. The debate, the difference is interesting and enriching as long as the fundamental values of the couple are the same. That’s what counts, otherwise it’s very complicated!“, assures Amélie Boukhobza, before concluding: “In my opinion, the real secret of a lasting couple is to talk to each other. Because the dynamic of exchange is essential to the good health of the couple. I often say that the partners of the couple do not speak the same language. It is not a question of understanding the other, but of moving enough from oneself to try to hear them. Hearing what is being said behind the partner’s spoken words.”