Happy Valentine’s Day!
We at Inome spend a lot of time touting how important written reflection is to increase your self awareness. But the fact is, reflective journaling isn’t just great for you; it’s also great for your romantic relationship.
In 2006, researchers had participants spend 20 minutes writing about their “deepest emotions and thoughts” about their relationships. They then tracked the texts sent between participants and their romantic partners over the next ten days.
They found that, compared to the control group, study participants’ text conversations with their partners included significantly more positive emotion words. Three months later, this group was much more likely to still to be together (and satisfied with their relationship) than those in the control group.
The greatest thing about this study is that only one person in the couple participated in the writing intervention, but both the participants and their partners used more “positive emotion words.” This is because of the feedback loop that couples give each other.
Journaling is even useful for when your relationship is struggling. Research has shown that expressive writing can help repair relationships after infidelity. Other research suggests that expressive writing after a breakup can help heal a broken heart.
Most importantly, however, journaling can help you understand what it really is that you need from a relationship and whether or not you can get that from your partner. Are your values compatible with each other? How does your partner usually make you feel? Are your life goals on a similar trajectory? Or can you deal with each other’s behaviors?
When you reflect on your experiences with your partner, remember to ask these six simple questions:
How did I feel?
What did I need?
How did I behave?
What did he/she need?
How did he/she behave?
What can I learn?
Slatcher & Pennebaker, “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words: The Social Effects of Expressive Writing.” Psychological Science, 2006
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