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. 

Relationship Minute: Tell me your feelings

In healthy relationships, partners are curious about each other’s feelings.

They adopt the motto, “When you’re hurt, the world stops and I listen.”

In unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, partners tend to ignore each other’s feelings.

They think to themselves, “I don’t have time for your negativity.”

So the next time your partner is upset, ask them to share their feelings with you⁠—and just listen.

Related blog posts

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

Relationship Minute: The uninvited party guest

Think of a conflict discussion as a dinner party you and your partner are throwing together.

You have certain guests you want to invite (Resolution, Repair Attempts, Humor, Permission to Take a Break). Then, there’s the guest you just know will show up no matter what—Negativity.

Negativity is usually the first to arrive. They smelled something cooking, didn’t bring a beverage or a dessert, and they waste no time making themselves at home.

You and your partner exchange glances. Negativity’s shoes are off and they’re already gnawing on a drumstick (Where did that even come from?).

How can you stop Negativity from taking over the party, alienating your other guests, and telling that same old story too loud like they did last time?

Mitigate.

Set boundaries with Negativity early. Don’t let them dominate the conversation.

For every one thing Negativity says, you agree to outweigh it with five positive contributions from the rest of the group. Friendship is there, and they’re on your side.

You and your partner are in this together.

With careful cooperation, you can keep Negativity from getting out of control and overstaying their welcome—at the party and in your relationship.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 17 September 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.