Having a good relationship with your partner is enormously helpful when navigating the journey of motherhood. Turning to them when things are tough or when you have had a bad day can help support you and give you the sense you are in it together!
And when caring and sharing is reciprocated in close personal relationships, we feel a great sense of personal wellbeing. Positive psychology has established a very strong link between positive relationships and wellbeing, and even supports the notion that love in caring relationships is the “trump card” of wellbeing.
A really interesting line of research into couples and intimate relationships suggests that supporting each other when good things happen is really important in strengthening a relationship. How you celebrate in a relationship is more important than how you argue!
In flourishing relationships, couples respond “actively and constructively” when sharing good news or experiences with each other. This means asking questions which encourage the person to talk about their good news. When we show a sense of genuine enthusiasm and energy for their experience, and we comment on the meaning it may have for them, it helps them to savour their positive emotions.
This contrasts with other responses which tend to weaken the warmth and bond of the relationship. For example; listening to the news but not showing enthusiasm, listening to the news but pointing out its downsides or complications, listening to the news and changing the subject or not even responding at all!
When responding to your partner you can be yourself, you don’t have to overdo the praise - just be interested, ask questions, including what it means for them. Your relationship will get a boost and you will increase your own wellbeing at the same time.
We hope you have a chance to test out this idea soon!
(Adapted by Flourishing Mothers from the work of Dr Shelly Gable, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara)