Relationship Minute: Give a Stress-Reducing Conversation

The holiday season is in full swing, which can mean extra stress, tension, and obligation to be “merry and bright.”

Treat your relationship to a Stress-Reducing Conversation and give each other the opportunity to vent about external factors without it affecting the relationship.

A few guidelines:

  • Take turns being the Complainer and the Listener.
  • When it’s your turn to complain, don’t complain about the relationship. Keep your complaints located in stressors outside of the dynamic between the two of you.
  • When it’s your turn to listen, take your partner’s side. Now is not the time to “play devil’s advocate.”
  • Stay in it. Tune in to your partner when you are the Listener and keep complaints from sliding into something personal when you are the Complainer.
  • Don’t try to solve your partner’s problems if they didn’t ask you to. Let it just be a time to vent.
  • Be kind. Offer affection and compassion to your partner with useful phrases like, “I can see why that would be stressful,” “That must have been hard,” or even just, “That sucks.”
A listening ear or a shoulder to cry on is a great gift to give your partner and something that could only come from you!
Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 12 December 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Give a doorway ritual

With all the hustle and bustle of the season—parties, shopping, deadlines, activities, and more—it can be hard to take a second to slow down and connect. Can you spare six seconds?

We’re big fans of the six-second kiss but you can make any small moment of connection into a doorway ritual.

A kiss.
A compliment.
A heartfelt “I love you.”
An inside joke.
A nice warm hug.

Connect every time you cross the threshold.

Studies show that passing through a doorway makes people forget—people often mentally mark the tasks they’re holding onto mentally as “complete,” whether they mean to or not.

So with all the coming and going this time of year, it’s even more important to remember to prioritize your relationship.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 5 December 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Table topics

It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States, which presents an opportunity to gather and connect with loved ones.

We always encourage getting to know your partner’s inner world, but there are also lots of topics in our Open-Ended Questions Card Deck that you can ask the people gathered around the table.

For example:

If you could change into any animal for 24 hours, what would it be and why?

Who was your childhood hero or heroine and why?

If you could be a genius in any art, music, drama, or dance, which talent would you choose and why?

When you’re open to hearing about someone else’s life, you never know what stories you might hear!

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 26 November 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Enjoy the show

There are few things more irritating at the movies than seeing someone’s phone screen light up in the middle of the dark theater.

For the most part, there is still a social contract that says everyone puts their phones away for the duration of a movie in theaters.

It can be distracting for others, plus our brains can only focus on one thing at a time and you can’t pause or rewind what you’re watching on the big screen.

By that logic, what if you treated date nights or face-to-face conversations with your partner as the feature presentation?

Be intentional about your time together. Give them the same courtesy you would offer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and put your phone away.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 19 November 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: The fortress

Stonewalling, as a term, paints a vivid picture. When a person stonewalls, they’re creating a cold, impenetrable fortress.

That fortress communicates one thing to potential intruders: keep out.

But fortresses also exist to protect what’s inside.

When you or your partner stonewalls, it is usually to protect from feeling psychologically and physically overwhelmed.

Thoughts within the fortress might sound like:

I’m feeling attacked.
I can’t take this.
Maybe they’ll tire themselves out if I don’t respond.
If I say anything back, this will only get worse.

However ineffective, stonewalling is a response to wanting to protect and preserve.

The next time you encounter a fortress, it may be best to ask what it’s protecting. It could be your key to getting beyond its walls.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 14 November 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Halloween rituals of connection

Whether you’re dressing up in a costume today or not, Halloween is an opportunity to create rituals of connection in your relationship.

If you haven’t already, have a conversation with your partner about how you would like to celebrate. Here are some questions to get you started.

How did you celebrate Halloween in your family growing up?
What’s your favorite Halloween memory?
How do you want to celebrate Halloween in our relationship/family?

You may decide to celebrate Halloween in a traditional way by carving pumpkins together, or in your own way by watching a movie or cooking a festive meal together.

Regardless of what you do, rituals of connection are important because they build meaning in your relationship.

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 31 October 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: I’m feeling defensive

Feeling defensive is normal and natural. It’s what you do with that feeling that makes all the difference.

When confronted with something that makes you feel defensive (“the sink is full of dirty dishes!”), you have two options.

You can respond defensively: “Some of those dishes are yours! I haven’t had time!”

Or, you can check in with yourself and acknowledge how you’re feeling in the form of a repair attempt: “I’m feeling defensive.”

That statement works to get the conversation back on track.

You will likely feel defensive again in the future, but being aware of your reaction can turn the tide of a conversation for the better.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 15 October 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.