By Patty Newbold, author of the award-winning marriage blog, AssumeLove.com
It can’t be easy marrying into a reality TV show, as Kris Humphries recently did. Kim Kardashian and her family speak their minds, and it’s all caught on camera. Kris already gets his share of it from her siblings, and it can’t be long before he catches angry words or insults from his new wife Kim, too.
It’s the Ratio, Not the Number
Let’s hope Kim’s already figured this out, but fighting words do not kill a relationship. Marriages fail when the nastygrams are not matched with at least five times as many respectful, loving and encouraging words and gestures. Remember: Five times. Or more.
That’s what psychologist John Gottman’s research found. He uses it to predict, in just a few minutes, which marriages will last and which will not. It doesn’t matter how many or how few unloving words, eye rolls, or shrugs are used in a relationship; only whether the good stuff happens at least five times as often as the bad.
It Won’t Be What You Expected
Here’s a tip for Kris. There is only one thing you should expect when you marry: love. We all show up to our weddings with a boatload of expectations, and many of them will be dashed. Your marriage will not go the way you thought it would, and you’ll make yourself miserable if you tell yourself this means you are not loved or respected. Kim, like any wife or husband, will love you her own way.
Therefore, due to the unique ways we all choose to show our love, it’s important to stop yourself when you hear yourself thinking, “If she loved me…” Unless she is actually doing you harm, she loves you, and you are missing it. You will make a mess of your marriage by getting angry when it’s not what you expected, not what someone else you know might do. That’s exactly what I did the first time around, and I could not see how much love I had overlooked until after my husband’s sudden death at the age of 35.
Just about now, Mr. and Mrs. Humphries are probably discovering that they disagree about things like where shoe polish should be stored and which family events cannot be missed. Well, there are never just two options for a resolution. Instead of disagreeing and eventually compromising, look for a third alternative to the problem that both makes you happy and also delights your mate.
Disagreeing is inevitable in any relationship, and if you’re not doing it, there’s probably something wrong. That said, it’s important to outweigh those fighting words with words full of love, kindness and respect. If you do, your relationship will thrive.