Ever wonder what makes some relationships work and others self-destruct?

The science of relationships has progressed a lot over the past 20 years; studies have revealed what it takes to have a successful relationship with your partner.

I found a great TedTalk that summarizes research in this area.  Marriage therapist, Joanne Davila, speaks about “romantic competence” and the three skills needed to have a healthy relationship.

Romantic competence is the ability to function adaptively across all areas of the relationship process

The first skill of romantic competence is insight.

This is more of a mindsight, an awareness of who you are and what you need.  If you don’t have insight, you won’t be able to know when you’re at fault.  You won’t be able to take responsibility for your mistakes.  You won’t be able to learn from those mistakes and you won’t be able to catch yourself before you say something hurtful.

Insight helps you grow and evolve as a partner.

The second skill is mutuality.

This means taking your partner into account during decision making.  Selfish people tend to  struggle in relationships because the other person feels left out and becomes resentful as a result.

Being able to consider your partner, value her perspective and work with her during challenging decisions and life transitions (having children, moving into a new home, changing jobs) will help you stay together. 

Mutuality allows you to work as a team in solving problems.

The last skill is social regulation.

This is the ability to control your emotions so they don’t derail you during interactions and conflict.

Anger is a big one for guys – we tend to “fly off the handle” when we don’t get what we want or when we feel misunderstood.

Being able to keep your emotions in check, particularly during disagreements, will allow you to work through problems constructively with your partner.

Having successful relationships comes down to a skill set you can learn and work on.

Most of us don’t have these skills, which explains why about half of all marriages breakdown.

We were never taught these skills and were never even told they were needed.

But you can get better at them by working with a coach or therapist.

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