In a long-term study at the University of Washington, psychologists found that they could predict with 94% accuracy the fates of the married couples they were studying. Among the marriages they predicted every single one of the divorces. In order to succeed, the researchers found that marriage needs a ratio of five positives for every negative, five compliments for each noncommittal answer or complaint; five expressions of affection for each outburst of anger or blame; five good things for every bad. The lesson: people need warm, positive reinforcements from their partners in order to stay the course.
This was remarkable to me. I had never read this statistic: five positives for every negative. Once again you had science reinforcing what God said originally. In Ephesians 4:29 Paul instructs us to say only what is good and kind and will build people up according to their needs. He continues in verses 31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…(and) be kind…” You must give five positives for every negative.
The University of Washington was so amazed at the predictability and accuracy of this five to one ratio they decided to try it across the board with different relationships. They tried it with boss and employee; they tried it with friends; they tried it with parents and children. They found that it worked 100% of the time in maintaining healthy, normal relationships between those different sets of people. You had to give five positive comments or feedbacks to every single negative that was given.
And what do we tend to do in society? We tend to do the exact opposite. Think of parents and children. “You didn’t make your bed, you didn’t do your homework, you didn’t clean up, you didn’t tell me that you were going to Angela’s house. Oh, by the way, you look cute.” We reverse it! We do five negatives for every positive. We do this in our marriages too. We’ve got to reverse it–say only what’s good and kind and will build people up according to their needs.
Just how do we do this? You determine, and then you just do it. You may think, “Oh, but that’s so hard. I can’t forgive, I have anger, you don’t understand my background, etc.” No, sorry, you just determine and you do it.
Jesus commands us to be proactive. “Go, and I will be with your mouth.” “Go, and sin no more.” Do these things. Obey, and I will give you the power. I do not ask you to do anything without giving you the power and the resources to do them.
** This is an excerpt from Becky’s book, Discover Real Joy: How To Remove The Four Joy-Killers That Sabotage Your Life, available wherever Christian books are sold.
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