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Be your partner’s greatest fan

Every month, Sarah Abell invites you to try a 30-day experiment to improve your love life

by Psychologies

celebrate with your partner

The project

When your partner has good news, do you:

a) open a bottle of fizz and make a fuss,

b) say ‘that’s nice, dear,’ and change the topic, or

c) rain on their parade by pointing out the downsides?

If you answered a) you are more likely to have a lasting, satisfying relationship.

The aim

If you want to make a positive investment in your relationship, be enthusiastic, positive and supportive when your partner shares good news.

The theory

Telling others about successes and getting a positive reaction is called ‘capitalisation’ and it is associated with more intimacy, higher satisfaction and a lower likelihood of breaking up. Psychology professor Shelly Gable and her research colleagues recorded 79 couples discussing positive and negative events and monitored their reactions. During the process, and eight weeks later, the couples were also asked to rate their relationship satisfaction.

The report – ‘Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive responses to event disclosures’ published in the Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology in November 2006 – stated that those participants whose partners energetically cheered and showed enthusiasm after hearing their positive news were most happy with their relationship overall.

This is why if your partner tells you about a pay rise, a promotion or some other exciting news, it’s a good idea to be attentive, encouraging and enthusiastic. How you respond to good news is even more important than whether you’re empathetic and compassionate when your partner tells you bad news, the research found.

So, next time your loved one tells you about their success – share their joy and celebrate.

Try it out

  • Share experiences. Every day for a month share some good news with each other – even a small thing like a compliment you were given or a task you completed well. Write them down.
  • React positively. Say why you’re pleased, and be as specific as possible. For example, if they got a new client at work you might say, ‘That’s amazing! I’m so pleased for you because I know how hard you’ve worked and how great you are at what you do.’
  • Celebrate! At the end of the month, take time to celebrate all the successes you have written down. Make a fuss of each other: go out for dinner, do a victory dance, break open the bubbly or have celebratory sex – whatever works for you!

Sarah Abell is an author, speaker and coach, who specialises in helping people live, love and lead authentically. She is the founder of nakedhedgehogs.com. To buy her LifeLabs Practical Wisdom online course How to Save Your Relationship, please click here. You can try a free 3-day taster trial first too.

More inspiration:

Watch Psychologies' editor Suzy Greaves interview Sarah Abell on How to love more in 2015 on LifeLabs

Read Ten lessons from ten years of marriage by Sarah Abell on LifeLabs

Photograph: iStock