Looking for love? Or simply aiming to be happy with the partner you already have? While the media is awash with information on finding true love, once you've met your match you're expected to simply live happily ever after.
But according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 42 per cent of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce and many of us could do with some guidance in the relationship department.
The secret to lasting love
To avoid being one of these disconcerting statistics, help is at hand. If you want to be part of a happy couple, Dr Robert Epstein is your guy. The renowned American psychologist, along with colleagues Regina Warfel and James Johnson, conducted in-depth relationship research at the University of California San Diego and found strong relationships boil down to seven key skills.
'No matter what your personality, or the state of your relationship, improving these skills will help your relationship work better,' he says.
According to Dr Robert Epstein, the seven key relationship skills you need to follow are as follows:
This means knowing how to listen, sharing your thoughts and feelings honestly, refraining from criticising and encouraging your partner to share his or her feelings.
It's all about opening up, and letting your other half open up too, in a judgement-free space. Sounds simple enough!
2. Knowledge of your partner
What's his shirt size? What's her favourite food? After communication, simply knowing a lot about your partner is a powerful way to show them you care, and makes you better equipped to tend to each other's ongoing needs.
When she gets home from a stressful day and you've run a bath with her favourite lavender oil and poured a cup of Pinot Grigio, she'll know how much you really do care (and listen).
3. Being mature about conflict resolution
Conflict-resolution skills include techniques like staying focused on the topic, staying in the present, being ready to forgive or apologise, and knowing when to take a break. You're going to disagree, so make sure you do it in the best way possible.
4. Brushing up your life skills
Do you plan for emergencies? Do you exercise and stay fit? Studies show people want their partners to take good care of themselves and also want them to contribute a degree of security to a long-term relationship.
We're not saying you need the survival skills of Bear Grylls, but being calm in a crisis and having a plan B when things don't work out makes you a far more appealing mate.
5. Being able to self-manage
This is not the same as life skills, Epstein insists. People who are skilled at self-management take inventories of their strengths and weaknesses and always strive for improvement. They know how to interpret disturbing events in positive ways and they work hard to reach their goals.
This skill is also great for life in general, and it can help boost everything from professional success to your relationships with your children.
6. Being romantic and intimate
What does having strong skills in sex and romance look like? Enquiring and caring about how to please your partner sexually, setting aside time for intimacy, refraining from blaming each other when sex doesn't go smoothly, and trying to stay physically attractive for your partner. So lay off the donuts and make time for romance!
7. Stress management
Do you know how to use breathing, meditation, or imagery techniques to help you fight stress? If you know how to avoid or fight stress, you'll be better able to love and support your partner.
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