There isn't a relationship in the world -- at any time in history -- that hasn't had to weather difficult times.
And as celebrated American journalist and author Mignon McLaughlin once wrote, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
How does one do that?
What trained relationship counselors have learned is that focusing on the positives can help ameliorate the negatives.
"While it’s important to address concerns, it can become destructive to the relationship when the focus on the negative outweighs the positive," says Tenille Jensen, MMFT, a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with Swinton Counseling.
Jensen likes the "magic ratio" of positive to negative interactions that lead to successful marriages. Advanced by relationship expert and researcher Dr. John Gottman, the research suggests that for every one negative interaction, a couple should have five positive interactions.
"It may seem difficult to think of five times as many ways to interact positively with your partner, but it’s not as hard as is seems," says Jensen.
In a recent blog post at Swinton Counseling, Jensen even provides a list of the little things that can make a big difference. They range from simply smiling at one's partner to leaving a love note in the car or meeting for lunch during the work week.
In other words, there are many things that don't cost much (if anything) that can deliver big relationship investment returns.
"Increasing the number of positive interactions you have with your spouse may seem like a simple thing or you may think you already do that," suggests Jensen. "However, as time goes on and life becomes busy and stressful, the simple things often get neglected."
Jensen says storing up small positives can outweigh the occasional big negative that comes along.
"If you are consistently making an effort to interact positively with your partner, you will create a stronger, more secure foundation to work through difficulties," adds Jensen.