Family Friday: The Happy Couple Ratio

I really enjoy reading articles that talk about the things good relationships do or don’t have. I was reading one recently that said happy couples have five positive interactions for every negative one. Sorry, I don’t remember the source. All I could think was: that can’t be right.

According to some of the other articles I’ve read, “interactions” with your significant other include face-to-face, phone calls, texts, and emails. If happy couples have five positive interactions for each negative interaction, most couples would have to have a fight a day. How does that make a happy couple?

I know that my husband and I have more interaction than many couples do. We get to talk before he goes to work, while he’s at work, and when he’s on his way home. Sometimes the conversations are as brief as “the weather’s horrible, so it might take me an hour to get home,” and other times they last for an hour. That doesn’t include texts of “dance class is running late, so I think we’re going to have to go out to supper,” or similar items. I’d say that we average having a dozen interactions each day. According to the Happy Couple Ratio, two of those should be negative interactions. Um, no? Are we just keeping the average up for other couples?

According to this article, unhappy couples average POINT 8 positive interactions for every negative interaction. How do you even maintain that kind of relationship?

And I’m not just talking about romantic couples. What about boss/employee relationships? “Well, Bob, you haven’t gotten mad at me this week. I’ll look forward to you yelling at me on Monday.” Student/teacher, parent/child, cashier/customer, coworkers, friends, neighbors, siblings, etc. I just can’t wrap my head around the 5:1 ratio.

Maybe I’m over-thinking this, or maybe I don’t understand what they mean by “interactions.” Maybe there are some neutral interactions in the mix, too. If they only consider positive interactions to be “you’re so handsome,” or “I’m so lucky you married me,” or “I got promoted today,” and negative interactions to be fights, there would be a lot of middle ground that’s unaccounted for in that ratio. I just don’t see humans as really being neutral beings. By nature, we’re emotional. We’re happy, or we’re not. Sometimes, we’re both. It is entirely possible to have a long, frustrating day, but still be pleasant to the people you’re interacting with.

Yeah, I am over-thinking this. I’m just really blessed, and grateful, that my husband gives me much better than a 5:1. 🙂

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