How healthy is your relationship?

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1. The love lab

Relationship expert Dr John Gottman and his team have spent four decades studying over 3,000 couples at their "Love Lab" in the University of Washington.

Dr Gottman claims he can predict with 90% accuracy whether or not a couple will stay together. But if the outlook doesn't seem too rosy at first sight after examining his ideas, don't despair. He also says couples can save their relationships by spotting the warning signs and changing how they treat each other.

Prevention is better than cure, after all. So, with that in mind, isn't it time to give your relationship a health check?

2. The poison

The Gottman Institute pinpoints four potential problems for a relationship - which they have dubbed the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Find out more about each of this fearsome foursome...

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Information on these four behaviours provided by the Gottman Institute.

3. The remedy

If your relationship is confronted by any of the portents of doom above, Dr Gottman advises adopting four intimacy-inducing alternatives...

Complain without blame

Talk about your feelings with your partner, using “I” statements.

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Complain without blame

Instead of saying “you always talk about yourself”, say “I’m feeling left out - can we please talk about my day?”

Culture of respect

Think positively about your partner, concentrating on their positive traits.

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Build culture of respect

Show appreciation and affection. Turn “you’re so stupid” into “I’m proud of the way you handled that situation.”

Take responsibility

Even if you disagree with your partner, listen to them and take some responsibility.

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Take responsibility

Say “I should keep better time”, instead of “It’s your fault we’re always late.”


Take 20 minutes to reduce your heart rate before discussing things.

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Instead of ignoring or stonewalling your partner, read a book or take a walk - then return to the conversation.

4. We can work it out

Different ways to deal with difficulties

Relate UK has spent over seven decades providing relationship support. They say that cultivating communication skills is vital for a healthy relationship.

"Often nobody teaches you how to communicate when you're growing up, either at school or in the home," says Relate counsellor Peter Saddington. "Counselling can develop skills to enable better communication."

Here are three tips from Relate to help improve your relationship:

Ask for advice

Just talking to someone outside the relationship can help. And if you don’t like to talk a lot, you can try drawing or mapping out your thoughts.

Be communication savvy

Set aside ‘couple communication’ time to talk about your week. Establish ground rules. Don’t interrupt or provide solutions, but empathise with the talker.

Get it together

If your partner’s amorous advances leave you cold, you could be harbouring built-up anger and resentment. Rather than withdrawing from this aspect of your relationship, talk about your feelings with them.