Renowned American psychologist Dr Robert Epstein’s research, which was conducted with University of California San Diego colleagues Regina Warfel and James Johnson, shows that seven basic skills are essential for building happiness in long-term love relationships. ‘No matter what your personality, or the state of your relationship, improving these skills will help your relationship work better,’ he says.
1. Communication This category involves critically important skills: knowing how to listen, sharing your thoughts and feelings honestly, refraining from criticising and encouraging your partner to share his or her feelings.
2. Conflict resolution Conflict-resolution skills include techniques such as staying focused on the topic, staying focused on the present, being ready to forgive or apologise, knowing when to take a break.
3. Knowledge of partner What’s their shirt size? What’s their favourite food? After communication, simply knowing a lot about your partner is a powerful way of showing that you care, and makes you better equipped to tend to their ongoing needs.
4. Life skills Do you plan for emergencies? Do you exercise and stay fit? Studies show that people usually want their partners to contribute a degree of security to a long-term relationship. People also want their partners to take good care of themselves.
5. Self-management This is not the same as life skills, Epstein insists. People who are skilled at self-management take inventories of their strengths and weaknesses and always strive for improvement. They know how to interpret disturbing events in positive ways and they work hard to reach their goals.
6. Sex and romance People with strong skills in these areas inquire and care about how to please their partner sexually, set aside time for intimacy, refrain from blaming their partner when sex doesn’t go smoothly, and try to stay physically attractive for their partner.
7. Stress management Do you know how to use breathing, meditation, or imagery techniques to help you fight stress? If you know how to avoid or fight stress, you’ll be better able to love and support your partner.
- Read 3 signs you are ready for a proper relationship by Madeleine Mason on LifeLabs
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