VALENTINE’S DAY MAGIC RATIO
I’m always trying to figure out original ways to make special holidays happy occasions for my wife.
That’s just the kind of husband I am.
Often I think of these original happiness-inducing ideas hours AFTER the holiday in question is over. That’s just the kind of mental processing speed I have.
A couple of Mother’s Days ago – the clock was ticking – the day had arrived – and I hadn’t even broached the subject with our chidren.
I went into journalism mode.
What could I learn about love that I could transmit, in the form of a gift, from me and our children, to my wife – their mother – in an instant.
And then I remembered – the interview I’d done with the folks at The Gottman Institute – where he videotapes couples talking and arguing and quickly determines whether their relationship will last or not.
Dr. Gottman has concluded that a key ingredient to a successful marriage is the ratio of positive to negative comments each partner makes to the other.
The ratio that puts you into the lasting love category -- he found – is 5:1.
Five positive comments for every one critical comment.
5:1 is the magic ratio for a healthy, happy marriage.
As I recounted here, when I was a Senior Executive Producer at CNN, I transposed the Magic Ratio for a Mother’s Day gift.
I pulled our three children aside right before our Mother’s Day brunch, no physical presents in hand. And I explained the ratio and how that was going to be our gift to mom that day.
Five positive comments for every critical one.
They completely understood – in a way I never anticipated.
As we entered the restaurant – they ran up to my wife – their mother – and raced through five compliments to get to the one zinger.
My wife was a bit perplexed. She didn’t understand the role of the zinger.
I calmly explained that I had taught them the magic of the 5:1 ratio.
Her reaction was calm and logical. Why (on earth), she said, would you give our children LICENSE to say ONE negative thing to ME on MOTHER’S day.
She had a point.
So here we are, approaching Valentine’s Day. And I run my own news operation now – Michael Schulder’s WaveMaker.
For those of you who are new to this site – what I mean by a WAVE is this.
A wave transmits energy over long distances. I hope to transmit energy – in the form of useful insights – like the 5:1 ratio for relationships – over long distances.
But how can I turn this insight of John Gottman’s into a huge wave without a big news organization behind me.
My friend – the esteemed oceanographer Dr. Sarah Oktay of Nantucket – has assured me that a light breeze can create a powerful wave. The key is to sustain the breeze.
And so – I ask now for your help.
Please think of five positive things – and be as specific as you can be – to express your appreciation for your spouse or partner – and, if you’re comfortable, post at least one positive comment you plan to express to your partner – five if you feel inspired- on my Facebook Page here.
As we see these positive – honest – comments arrive – provided they are appropriate for the whole family – the WaveMaker community can weigh in on them – and perhaps be inspired by what they hear.
Do you notice what’s missing from this request?
I have not asked for that one negative comment in the magic 5:1 ratio.
I have learned from my mistake.
A 5:0 ratio of positive to negative comments may not be realistic.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Create a new reality.