Relationship Minute: Stay on the track

When your partner is upset, they may not share everything they’re feeling all at once.

They may not have a great sense of what’s going on for them, or they may not want to overwhelm you.

Think of your partner’s emotions like a train, with some feelings getting off at every station.

The next time they’re upset, try creating the space to show them you’re there for the whole ride by asking, “Is there anything else you’re feeling?”

Then hear them out.

Remember, it’s not your objective to get to the “last stop.” Just stay curious and see that every feeling leaves the train safely and acknowledged.

It may be a short trip or a long one, but hearing your partner’s experience completely can make sure nothing stays on board and carries into the next ride.

Related blog posts

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

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Relationship Minute: The story I’m making up

Your experience is just that—your own, personal experience.

Your past, unconscious biases, and even the literal perspective you see things from can color an event different from the way your partner experiences that exact same thing.

In her Netflix special, “The Call to Courage” and in this Tech Insider interview, Brené Brown suggests that rather than assume the other person’s intentions or thoughts, we share our experiences using the preface, “The story I’m making up” or “The story I’m telling myself is…”

It’s a great way to acknowledge that your reality is subjective, and check in with your partner to share how you’re experiencing something in a way they may not have intended.

“Basically, you’re telling the other person your reading of the situation—and simultaneously admitting that you know it can’t be 100% accurate,” Brown says. “[It conveys] I want you to see me and understand me and hear me, and knowing what you really mean is more important to me than being right or self-protecting.”

What stories might you be making up?

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 6 August 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Escape

“Escape (the Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes is a beachy, karaoke favorite about a husband and wife who discover they were planning to cheat on each other.

A less catchy title for the song could be, “We Never Talked to Each Other Then Assumed Infidelity Was the Only Solution Rather Than Changing Our Communication Strategy (the Piña Colada Song)”

Everyone’s sense of relief is shared as the couple in the song updates their Love Maps and laugh about how they basically Catfished each other.

Their “same old dull routine” didn’t include room for champagne, piña coladas, or midnight lovemaking. Their relationship was, according to the lyrics, “a worn-out recording of a favorite song.”

How do you re-heat things in your relationship before deciding to take out a personal ad (or, more likely, downloading Tinder)? How do you keep monogamy from becoming monotony?

Create opportunities for adventure. Try new things together. Write a personal ad detailing things you’d like to try with your partner (then share it with them, rather than posting it).

Find a new tune. Together.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 1 August 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Quid pro quo

Payment apps like Venmo may be harming your relationship.

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, being a stickler for exact change in a payment app causes people to perceive you as petty and think less fondly of your relationship.

You don’t want to feel like your partner is keeping precise track of what you owe them, and vice versa.

It undermines our bond by turning a trust-based relationship into a transactional tit-for-tat relationship.

This idea of “quid pro quo” seems to operate in unhappy marriages, where each partner feels the need to keep a running tally of who has done what for whom.

Happy couples, on the other hand, just do nice things because they want to.

Related blog posts:

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 23 July 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: I didn’t mean to upset you

Couples get stuck when they defend their intentions instead of focusing on how they made their partner feel.

Whether or not you meant to hurt your partner’s feelings, their feelings are hurt. Saying “I didn’t mean to upset you” doesn’t make them feel better. It’s not even really an apology.

Instead, accept responsibility for your own actions and attitude. “I’m sorry I was rude” is an apology that takes ownership.

Feel the difference?

Related blog posts:

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 16 July 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: What do you need when you’re stressed?

When you’re really stressed at work, does it help to talk about it when you get home?

Or do you just need space to decompress?

Does your partner handle stress the same way?

If you’re not sure, ask.

We do know that a daily stress-reducing conversation keeps external stress from spilling over into your relationship, but it doesn’t have to happen right when you walk in the door.

The last thing you want to do when your partner is stressed is to stress them out even more.

Related blog posts:

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 11 July 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: On independence

It’s Independence Day in the United States, which has us thinking: How important is independence in a relationship?

Well, it depends.

Relationships are like a dance. There are times when you feel drawn to your loved one and times when you feel the need to pull back and replenish your sense of autonomy.

The potential for conflict arises when partners’ needs fall on different ends of the spectrum. Some people desire more frequent connection, while others crave more independence.

Viewing your relationship as a dance rather than a tug of war will remind you to collaborate to meet each other’s needs rather than fight to preserve your own.

Related blog posts:

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 4 July 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.