Small IslandRelationships are tough, and we are each involved in hundreds of them. The saying, “No man (or women) is an island,” quoted from the famous English poet John Donne, could not capture more succinctly the concept that each of us must interact with people and our surroundings.

We now know how important maternal nurturing is to an infant’s development, but we may have forgotten the importance of nurturing as we matured.

There has been some surprising work done on couples’ relationships. Answering the question of why intimate associations succeed or fail was found to be easier than originally envisioned; however, the results are not what might be expected.

Mutual Respect

It’s not surprising that “mutual respect” appears to be the cornerstone of successful relationships. What is surprising, however, is the way disagreements and complaints are settled by successful couples. It was originally thought that giving a person room to be who they are, and only raising an issue when it becomes a big deal, were the keys to successful relations.

Research has shown quite the opposite to be true:

“The most successful relationships are the ones with a really low negativity threshold. In those relationships, couples allow each other to complain, and work together to constantly repair the tiny issues between them. In such a case, couples don’t bottle up their feelings, and little things don’t end up being blown completely out of proportion.” – Hannah Fry, “The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation”

Taking Care of Conflicts

I would suggest that the findings for successful intimate associations apply, to a degree, in all relationships:

  • Take care of the little conflicts, openly and honestly.
  • When you complain, do not posit yourself as the other person’s victim.


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