Can't Water a Tree with Poison
A research team out of the University of Washington can predict with over 80 percent accuracy which couples will stay happy and which couples will split. They say it has nothing to do with irreconcilable differences.
http://www.thislife.org/ (look for the search field on the left and enter episode 261 for an audio archive) or search John Gottman.
It occurs to me that Gottman’s principles for communication can be generalized to all kinds of negotiated peace, including the really big kind.
Gottman’s Guidelines for Keeping the Peace
Don’t let the praise-criticism ratio fall beneath 7:3
However tempted, don’t show signs of contempt. (that includes rolling the eyeballs)
Accept influence from the other person/party, show that you’re working to cooperate.
Do your best not to let the other person/party feel attacked.
When we’re attacked our heart rate escalates along with adrenaline levels. This in effect creates a perceptual mote around us. We stop hearing what the other person says and cling to our own positions.
When this happens look for ways to de escalate. It’s better to back away slowly than hit a stone wall. The American Life archive above shows a really touching example of a couple de-escalating after the husband felt attacked.
Most relationships—including the successful ones-- have about 15 or so irreconcilable differences.
This is a good thing. What would be more frightening than a world where we all thought alike?