Long-term, stable marriages have at least five positive exchanges for each negative exchange. Drop below that, and you're in trouble. This comes from one of the best known marriage researchers, John Gottman. He has a remarkable track record of predicting the state of your marriage four years later based on watching only a 15-minute conversation about some problem the two of you face.
What does this say about where our attention is focused? It takes five smiles, agreements, shared laughs, head nods, or loving touches to make as big an impression as one critical remark, raised voice, or eye roll. We watch like hawks for the negative ones. The researchers watching the video replays watch for both.
Expect Love: Look harder for the positive ones, and it might take fewer to get you past the occasional negative. And when you notice a negative one, Assume Love and take a second look. You just might avoid sending the most important person in your life an unexpected and undeserved negative.