Research shows that partners who succeed in their love relationship have specific “emotional intelligence” skills that allow them to maintain an inner calm in conflict. This emotional mastery permits them to feel safe enough to remain present to their partner and the situation without setting off their own brain’s “fight or flee” defenses, which also effectively lowers chances of triggering their partner’s defenses.
The proven benefits are many and substantial. Evidence from neuroscience and studies on attachment and relationship intimacy suggests that skills that support the formation of healthy relationships may well be the singular most important asset in life.
Consider the benefits accumulated from decades of research by author, researcher and national expert in marriage relationships, Dr. John Gottman. These individuals:
- Live longer.
- Sustain more responsive immune systems.
- Are less likely to act out with violence on self or others.
- Experience 35% less illness.
- Report fewer emotional or mental health issues.
As it turns out, perhaps not surprisingly, when children are in the picture, the children of these individuals also reap benefits in that they:
- Have fewer emotional issues.
- Experience fewer problems related to their physical health.
- Perform better academically.
- Are better able to regulate their emotions in conflict.
- Have more social skills.
In sum, these partners are healthier, physically, emotionally and socially, as individuals, and so are their children.
Considering the enormous benefits and minimal costs, why is it that so many individuals fail to acquire the behavior response patterns that would essentially guarantee their success in what may be one of life’s most vital undertaking—the marriage or couple partnership?
Mounting evidence from brain research now provides answers to this question. The reason individuals fail to do what is in their highest interest, and keep repeating behaviors that are contrary to their interests instead has to do with old neural programming of their brains. The brain gets conditioned to activate in set neural patterned ways in response to stress very early in life. These emotional-behavioral response patterns become ingrained and can persist throughout an individual’s life.
There is good news, however!
Evidence also shows that the brain has a built in capacity to change throughout the life span. It is possible for you and your partner to consciously rewire your brains for more flexibility by forging new neural patterns with new associations, for example, the ability to remain calm, confident and centered in a situation that would otherwise activate reactivity.
So, if you like the sound of the benefits above and the image of yourself and your partner reaping these benefits in the near future, apparently, they are yours for the making. A healthy mutually enriching couple relationship is yours to create in the near future.
It all depends on you. Do you want the benefits, and how much?