Never in a million years would I have guessed when I started The Loveumentary back in 2012 that I would one day be sitting down in a hotel room with arguably the world's foremost experts, and most celebrated researchers on the topic of romantic love - John and Julie Gottman.
I'm constantly amazed that this little idea to interview awesome couples has grown into a resource that has helped to enlighten, inspire, and touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for the better. And I feel like we're just getting started...
One of the questions I get asked most often is "What's the secret sauce? What's the most important thing you've learned on this journey?"
The answer has changed over time, often depending on the themes that are emerging for me in my life and in the interviews I conduct. And after talking with the Gottmans, David York, and David and Gretchen, I think a new theme has emerged for me - and this one might be the most important "key to true love" of them all.
Here's a quote directly from the interview embedded above. I had just asked John what was his most surprising discovery in his 4+ decades of work. The answer was so surprising:
Let me be clear, John Gottman has discovered a LOT of interesting things in his 40+ years of research.
He's the guy who can watch a couple argue for 5 minutes and predict with a 93% accuracy whether or not they'll get divorced.
He's discovered that 69% of all relationship conflict is unresolvable. They are the perpetual problems that need constant management and never have a perfect resolution. Ie: He likes Mexican food, she doesn't. Or, how your in-laws meddle and wan to influence how you raise your kids. (You can read more about how to deal with these types of problems here.)
He's written books on emotional intelligence, betrayal, effective communication strategies, and even how to adjust your relationship after having babies.
Yet the thing that has surprised him most is the abundance - and importance - of kindness and compassion in truly remarkable relationships.
It reminds me of last week's episode on the podcast. The foundation of David and Gretchen's amazing relationship is kindness.
It was Gretchen's kindness to encourage David to find someone who had all the qualities he wanted in a wife that made him realize that what he had with Gretchen was even better than his list.
It is their commitment to kindness that motivates them to treat each other as if their partner were the most special and prized human in the universe. This kindness allows them to navigate disagreements and inspires them to help each other fulfill their wildest dreams.
This kindness is at the center of their goal as a couple to help everyone they meet get one step closer to living their full potential.
Dr. Gottman even went so far as to say that if he could give his younger, single self one piece of advice it would be to get out of unkind dating relationships as quickly as possible.
When you're in a relationship with someone who is kind, they are quick to forgive, they are patient and understanding when you screw up, they are compassionate when you are hurting, they inspire you to pursue your dreams, they won't gossip behind your back, or scream at you when they are angry. They are thoughtful, supportive, and calm in times of duress.
Kindness is the framework for enduring love.
What can you do to be more kind to those you love? How can you create rituals and rules of kindness in your relationships so that they flourish rather than flounder? What is something kind the one you love has done for you lately? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!