Holiday Relationship Status Updates

I’m an advocate of social media, in many respects. Students might find this difficult to believe, given my sheer number of concerns I raise against the use of social media. I think the most important factor, however, is that we use it responsibly. That key word is critical: being able to consider the possible outcomes of each and every post, comment, photo, and idea we share with others is critical to our success as human beings.

Now, to get off  my soapbox for a moment, I saw several updates in the last few days from friends through my Facebook feed relating to their relationship statuses. Some finally admitted to being in a relationship with someone (not that most of us didn’t already know offline); others updated their status to engaged or married. And it is exciting. I’m elated for them.

In the process of their updates, I became very reflective of my own relationships, as I am prone to doing. Seeing these friends share so much of themselves publicly really intrigued me, but also forced me to think about the best and most challenging aspects of a relationship. As I explored my first Christmas with someone, we had to navigate the whole familial obligations, the alone time, the travels, and the gift giving. Not to mention our overlapping duties at church as choir director and pianist.

All this to say that the thing I realized to be the most stressful of this experience was that we stopped being blatant of our admiration with one another in the last two weeks. In the process, we have both felt more stress and frustration; I don’t like that feeling. It’s nagging and depressing. When it becomes prominent, it becomes hurtful and can take away from the most positive aspects of a relationship.

For that reason, I have started one of my new resolutions already: It is vital to a relationship’s success to be blatantly admiring of your significant other. Don’t presume they know how you feel, nor what you love about them. Rather, take the time to tell them what quality you admire, what they do that makes you feel special, why you love them. Just find one thing. That’s it: ONE. THING.

John Gottman, Ph.D., a noted relationship scholar discusses a variety of topics in his books about relationship satisfaction. Because of his extensive research, he can predict the likelihood of a couple’s success in 5 years with approximately 90% accuracy. It’s amazing, right!? But one of the key tenets of his research is the idea of the positive feelings ratio. In this, he promotes the concept that for every negative feeling, you should have no fewer than 5 positive feelings toward your partner. That sounds difficult, certainly, but it also has so many incredible implications.

Consider this your personal challenge for the coming year: in each relationship, be sure that you mention at least 1 good thing about each important person in your life each day. Really challenge yourself by also doing it for yourself.

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