Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne wrote an article in Psychology Today about research that was done to determine which Relationship Skills were most important in creating a happy and successful relationship.
7 Skills were tested:
1. Communication (knowing how to listen, share your thoughts, avoid being critical)
2. Conflict resolution (Staying focused on the topic and on the present, being willing to forgive or apologize as necessary)
3. Knowing your partner (Knowing how to have fun with your partner, knowing your partner's preferences, caring about your partner's wishes)
4. Life Skills (Being able to manage finances, stay fit and healthy, and keep a job.
5. Self-management (Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, striving to overcome your weaknesses, identifying and reaching your goals)
6. Sex and romance (Asking about and caring for your partner' sexual satisfaction, setting aside time for intimacy, staying attractive for your partner)
7. Stress management (Being able to use various methods to cope with stress, such as imagery, relaxation, planning and organizing)
Drum Roll Please.... The top 2 indicators of a successful relationship were Communication and Knowing Your partner!
Communication remains an important predictor of relationship satisfaction, but you also need to know what your partner wants and needs out of life. Fortunately, this is a skill that is easy to obtain. As the authors note, “Its predictive power is probably related to its simplicity” (p. 352). If you forget your partner’s birthday or an anniversary, “such gaffes can be devastating ... interpreted as signs that your partner does not care about you” (p. 353). All you have to do to gain this skill is to learn and remember basic facts about your partner. You don’t need to become an expert in conflict resolution or even that great at romance.
Fulfillment in relationships may not be that far out of your reach, even if you feel that you’re lacking on some of the subtleties of getting along with a long-term partner. Communication still remains Number One, but it’s relatively easy to acquire that Number Two skill which will help provide that fulfillment over time.
Epstein, R., Robertson, R. E., Smith, R., Vasconcellos, T., & Lao, M. (2016). Which relationship skills count most? A large-scale replication. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 15(4), 341-356. doi:10.1080/15332691.2016.1141136