When your partner gets a raise or accomplishes a goal, do you say "good job" and go back to playing Candy Crush, or do you leap out of your seat and squeal like you both won the lottery? If you act like your partner's biggest cheerleader, you may have inadvertently unlocked one of the secrets to a happy relationship. A study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 91, No. 5) found that couples who respond to each other's good news in a big, enthusiastic way report significantly higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
And there's a right and a wrong way to respond to your partner's good news, even if you think you're responding positively. Basically, there are good positive responses and negative positive responses, and it's the former that really rockets your relationship into happy land. Getting your cheerleader game on lock is even more important than being compassionate when your partner tells you bad news, the study also pointed out. That's because bad news tends to have more impact on stress and self-esteem. There's only so much your words can do to bring your partner back to a happy place. But sharing in good news in an enthusiastic way helps keep those good feelings going. So it's not just that you're there when times are tough. It may be even more important to be there when times are good. Here are some strategies for taking out those emotional pompoms, both from the study and from my time living and breathing healthy relationships as both a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and a Planned Parenthood-Certified Responsibly Sexuality Educator.
1. Celebrate Immediately
Right after you hear the news, it's the time to throw your arms around your partner and say "congratulations!" The focus is just on celebrating an achievement. It's about creating a shared moment of pure joy.
2. Save Your Questions For Later
You might have a lot on your mind after you hear great news, but the moments after you hear it aren't the time for questions. Even simple and seemingly benign questions like "will you have time for that?" were perceived in a negative way, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study. Save those for later, when you're having serious talks. Celebrate first.
3. Affirm The Win
The study indicated that the best types of responses were called constructive and energetic (as opposed to destructive and passive). That means the best things to say at times like these are statements that affirm your partner's accomplishment such as "you really deserve it" and "I'm so proud of you."
4. Talk Your Partner Up
When you're out visiting family and friends, even if you're not together, use the same types of strategies to talk about your partner's good news. Be proud, supportive, and happy. You'll be setting the standard for how others broach the topic.
5. Don't Make It About You
When something big happens to your partner, it happens to you, too. But now's not the time to dwell on that. You'll have plenty of time to process changes and figure out whatever needs figuring out. Right now it's about your partner winning.
6. Celebrate The Small Victories Too
Raises and promotions aren't the only types of victories worthy of celebrating. Say your partner is a new blogger and just broke 100 followers on social media. In the grand scheme of things, 100 followers isn't a big deal, but to a newbie, it's one in a series of small accomplishments that means he or she's on the right track. Make a big deal out o the little things, too.
Responding to your partner's good news in this way opens a lot of doors for personal growth, according to study authors. And if there's anything better than happiness in a relationship, it's growth.