Remember this ratio: 5:1. Five positives. One negative. If you have 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction you have with your spouse, you are nearly guaranteed to have a successful, lasting marriage.

The book How Full is Your Bucket examines the effect of positive emotions on people. Rath and Clifton cite a study by John Gottman who filmed 15-minute conversations of 700 newlyweds. He then went through the footage and counted positive or negative interactions. Then, he predicted who would get divorced, based on that 15 minute conversation. Ten years later, he looked at their marriages, and found that his prediction rate was 94% correct. He was right on with 94% of the couples, after only counting the ratio of positive to negative interactions for 15 minutes.

Sit down with your spouse sometime over the next couple weeks and count how many of your interactions are positive or negative. You should have a ratio of 5 positive for every 1 negative. Each positive does not have to be flowers or a gift. In 1 Corinthians 7:3 we read, “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.” Benevolence simply means kindness, grace, or charity.

Lest you think that you can only say positive things, there is a limit to the ratio that goes up to 13:1. If you go above that, the pollyanna attitude can become more detrimental to the relationship, and you lose the effectiveness of the positive emotions.