Maintaining a strong relationship is not easy. Luckily, there are ways to single-handedly take the first steps toward building the positive to negative ratio in your relationship. Here is the ‘high road’ approach for how to take initiative in increasing positive connection and growth with your spouse.

Research shows that happy couples have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. What does this mean for couples who could use a little improvement in happiness and satisfaction? Well, by increasing the amount of positivity you put into your relationship, you will also increase your own satisfaction with that relationship. Many times couples are interested in waiting for the other partner to change first. The thought goes something like this, “I’m not the one that needs to change, he/she needs to change first. I know I’m not perfect but I’m not going to change what I’m doing until I see him/her making an effort first!” This line of thinking tends to be counterproductive. If you are waiting for your spouse or partner to change first, you could be waiting a very long time. My advice to couples is to control what you have control over, yourself.

There are several ways to increase the positivity ratio in your marriage or relationship. The simplest way is to increase your daily dose of compliments and encouragement for one another. Sometimes it may seem difficult to give your partner a compliment every day, but if you look closely enough, you will find something they did that deserves a compliment. The key to giving compliments and encouragement is to personalize these statements by using “I.” Instead of saying, “You did a nice job trimming the hedges” say, “I really like the way the hedges look after you trimmed them up; I appreciate you doing that today.”

At this point, you may be asking yourself “How does complimenting my spouse benefit me?” The answer lies in your ability to successfully connect with your spouse or partner. By increasing your positivity ratio, you also increase connection in your relationship. Connecting in your marriage is like putting money in the bank or saving for a rainy day. It enhances the quality of your relationship and puts a positive spin on your daily interactions with your spouse. It shortens and smoothes out disagreements when they arise. It can also reduce the overall stress level in your relationship. When you focus on connecting and positivity in your marriage, you are saving up goodwill that can propel the relationship past arguments and conflicts. And yes, even happy couples have arguments and conflicts. You just have to remember to keep that 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions in order to maintain a healthy and happy marriage.