Strong relationships, says Bradbury, recognizes how pressures outside of home and the relationship can influence, and even break down good communication skills.
“Outside,” Bradbury says, “there is a real world that impinges on us.” To deal with it takes not only communication, but also an understanding that even the strongest communication networks among partners can falter and when they’re under these intense external pressure.
If couples were paying any attention during the past few decades, they should be able to recite the one critical ingredient for a healthy relationship — communication.
But the latest study shows that other skills may be almost as important for keeping couples happy.
In , historian Stephanie Coontz traces the gradual erosion of this old idea of marriage back about 200 years in Western society as cultural expectations about marriage changed from one rooted in kinship, property and utility to one in which people were expected to get nearly all of their emotional needs met by one person.
For today’s couples interested in improving their relationships, say the study’s authors, therapists might consider going back to the basics and incorporating more practical social skills into their discussions.
Technology that once supplemented relationship development is now, it seems, taking on a larger role in relationship formation and maintenance.
But the next two factors — which were also the only other ones with strong links to couple happiness — were knowledge of partner (which included everything from knowing their pizza-topping preferences to their hopes and dreams) and life skills (being able to hold a job, manage money, etc.).
While his study did not separate trivial from such profound knowledge, he says that the two are strongly linked.
(MORE: What Drove Man to Monogamy: It Wasn’t Love) While other marriage researchers agree that forgetting things like birthdays or food preferences can be annoying and detrimental to a relationship, they believe the importance of life skills that was revealed in the study is telling. “In 1900 a woman or man would think, ‘My partner must be able to provide for me.’ ‘She must be able to help me plant and dig up the crops.’” If the couple had this foundation, they’d consider themselves lucky if they also got their emotional needs met.
The Rise of Texting For many people, texting is a major source of relationship communication.
People age 17 to 25 tend to text their romantic interests more than older individuals do (Coyne, Stockdale, Busby, Iverson, & Grant, 2011).