Relationship Check-In

By Polly Douse, MMFT

Are you five for one?

Relationships can be challenging, and this is especially true for marriage. Even though our way of life has continued to evolve with technology, electricity, the Internet, entertainment, etc., one thing that remains a constant in the success of relationships is the way that we communicate. Communication can be through words, touch, action, listening, and being present.

What does this have to do with five for one? According to Dr. John Gottman and Robert Levenson, for every negative interaction between couples, there need to be at least five positive interactions, and this “magic ratio” distinguishes happy couples from unhappy ones.

Kyle Benson with The Love Lab does a great job of breaking down Gottman’s and Levenson’s work on Benson describes how, Levenson and Gottman began conducting longitudinal couple studies in the 1970s, and they observed couples trying to solve a problem in 15 minutes. After studying nine years of data, Levenson and Gottman were able to predict with over 90% accuracy if a couple would divorce or not.

Can you imagine if a mental health practitioner could predict if your marriage would end in divorce or not with over 90% accuracy? I most certainly am not in a position to do this but I am curious about it.

What does this mean for you and your relationship? What do positive interactions look like in your relationship and how do negative interactions play out on a typical day? Interested in learning more about this “magic ratio?” Visit this link to read more about The Gottman Institute.

Benson, K. (2022, August 8). The magic relationship ratio, according to science. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved February 12, 2023, from

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Polly Douse is the founder of THERCO, LLC. Polly Douse has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a pre-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (temporary license number is 2043), pursuing licensure, and practicing under the supervision of Joni Batts, Ph.D., LMFT, RPT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, license number 1111.