From a recent study comprised of 40,000 "Relationship Checkup" participants, Dr. John Gottman, a primary figure on the relationship research and couples therapy scene since the mid 80’s, has new data. Here are just a few relationship research nuggets on heterosexual couples from his study. You might find some of the results surprising!
What percentage of couples presently engagee in therapy is at least one partner considering an exit? 66%
82% of couples are having problems with loneliness in the relationship
What About Problems with Intimacy and Sex?
Sex Quality: 55%
Sex Frequency: 49%
How many partners have problems with trust? 66%
The Top 3 Things Couples Fight About:
86%: Not having fun anymore
74%: No emotional connection
Speaking of conflict, the biggest obstacle to productively navigating conflict in relationships is flooding. Flooding means that the heart gets to 100 beats per minute, and when that happens it is nearly impossible to communicate from a calm, grounded place. In fact, when flooded, communication can be erratic, irrational and possibly damaging to the relationship. The antidote is self-soothing or helping each other soothe, if possible. Sometimes leaving the situation (in a structured time out) is the best thing a couple can do for a relationship. 96% of couples are flooded during conflict. It is interesting to note that LGBTQ couples seem to do a much better job than heterosexual couples with conflict and communication.
I will leave you with one more nugget and it’s an important one to consider for those who are struggling in married or long term relationships: The #1 predictor of divorce is contempt. If you are calling your partner names, assassinating their character or hitting below the belt in other ways…and you would like to save your relationship, please seek counseling for help.