Marriage Minute: Rise and Shine!

We all have our preferences for waking up in the morning. Some of us love it. Others hate it. Some of us take one look at the clock and go back to sleep. Others go for a run.

In any case, most of us need caffeine.

If you wake up with your partner every morning, why not start your day with a few positive interactions? Like these:

  • Get up at the same time
  • Smile at each other and cuddle for a few minutes
  • Have coffee or tea together, or breakfast
  • Do some morning chores together
  • Kiss each other goodbye

We know that with busy jobs and hectic lives, those ideas aren’t possible for everyone. What’s important is that sticking to shared routines can become a reliable way to connect every day. Try something that works for both of you.

Related blog posts

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 12 July 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: Facts will serve you better than myths

Recently, The Washington Post invited the Gottman Institute to debunk five marriage myths. Much conventional marriage advice isn’t always true or helpful, but the facts that they discovered about relationships will serve you well.

1. Common interests keep you together. They won’t if you don’t interact in a positive way when engaging in common interests. (Remember, 5:1!)

2. Never go to bed angry. If you’re flooded and you need a break, sleeping on it isn’t a bad idea at all.

3. Couples therapy is for fixing a broken marriage. Couples therapy can help repair serious issues, but it’s more effective as preventative maintenance.

4. Affairs are the main cause of divorce. False. According to a study, 80 percent of divorced men and women cited growing apart as the reason for divorce.

5. Marriages benefit from a “relationship contract.” Instead of keeping score of who does what for whom, building a culture of appreciation in your marriage is a much better approach.

You can read more about each of these five myths here. We hope you find them helpful!

More articles about debunking relationship myths:
Debunking 5 Myths About Premarital Conflict
4 Marriage Myths That Cause Divorce
Debunking 12 Myths About Relationships

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 5 June 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: There are two sides to stonewalling

Sometimes, an argument with your partner can get so overwhelming that you shut down and withdraw from interaction. You’re probably feeling flooded, maybe even panicked, and you might even be trying to protect yourself.

But your partner may not see it that way. Instead, they could perceive an act of stonewalling as you purposely ignoring them.

Those are the two sides to stonewalling, and if it happens often, it’s easy to start entrenching yourselves on opposite sides of that wall.

Fortunately, there’s a way to break down that wall, and that’s to ask for a break, but it can be very hard to come up with the right words to ask for a break when you’re flooded.

So, you and your partner should agree, ahead of time, on how to take a break when one of you gets flooded, such as a “timeout” signal or some kind of word or phrase that both of you can use. Then you and your partner will be able to respect the other’s need for a break.

Once you take a break, take a half hour alone to calm down and self-soothe, and when you feel calm, you’ll be ready to resume the discussion from a rational state of mind.

Additional reading

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 15 May 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: Do common interests keep you together?

Nope. No way. Not even close.

“Having common interests” is one of the relationship myths that “experts” spread around like wildfire. Kind of like “never go to bed angry” or “marriage is 50/50.”

With all due respect to your beloved Aunt Sharon, she’s wrong.

However, sharing common interests can be a great way to connect. If you can engage in, say, kayaking together in a positive way that you both enjoy, great!

But if you end up arguing or criticizing each other about proper paddle strokes, then that just paves a road for resentment. So it’s really about how you interact, not what you do together.

To make your relationship solid, stable, and sound, then you need to ditch the myths and learn the facts, and we’re here to help you do that.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 22 May 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: The magic relationship ratio

After researching thousands of couples for decades, The Gottman Institute discovered a number of facts about successful relationships. But one important fact stands out among the rest:

The magic relationship ratio is 5:1.

Five to one of what? Simply put, successful and lasting relationships must have a ratio of five positive interactions for every single negative interaction, and it is the difference between the “masters” and “disasters” of relationships.

In other words, disasters fall below 5:1, but masters keep their positive to negative ratio of interactions at 5:1 or above, and sometimes even as high as 20:1!

Fortunately, most positive interactions in relationships are small, everyday gestures of kindness, affection, and appreciation. If you’re worried that you’re not hitting 5:1, try creating some positive, daily rituals of connection in your relationship.

To learn more, click here to watch Dr. John Gottman explain the 5:1 ratio.

Additional reading:

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 10 May 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Choosing the Right Crew as a New Military Spouse

From BlogBrigade:

I saw an awesome t-shirt the other day that summed up my friendship philosophy: Your vibe attracts your tribe. Isn’t that the truth? I have an amazing group of friends who I trust with my whole heart. But friendships haven’t always been easy for me, especially as a new military spouse. Making friends as an adult under any circumstances can be tough. Making friends when you are away from home can be even harder. But having a crew of friends you can count on is one of the things that has helped me most on my military journey.

When I was a young military spouse in my early 20s, living on an installation for the first time, life was lonely. My husband was working a lot and I didn’t have many friends that I kept in touch with after high school. I remember our first tour well. It was the first time I’d ever met someone from another state, much less the other side of the world. I was being exposed to people from different backgrounds and cultures with different value systems and parenting styles. It didn’t take me long to learn that the military spouse connection alone would not be enough to sustain a lasting friendship. I’d meet a spouse and we’d hit it off, but our friendship would fade, sometimes for obvious reasons and others with no explanation at all. I wish back then that someone would have told me that it was okay to let friendships go if they didn’t feel right. Now that I’m older and I have good, caring, amazing friends, I would tell myself this:

  1. Don’t become someone’s enabler. Every military spouse needs a helping hand from time to time. An emergency sitter, a can of cream of mushroom soup, or a ride to the clinic. But if crisis seems to follow someone around like a lost puppy, that might not be a good relationship for you. Rescue friends are emotionally exhausting and take away valuable time from healthy relationships. It’s okay to help someone out in a time of need, but don’t become a savior for someone who constantly needs rescuing.
  2. Find a mutual connection. People get busy. We don’t always return calls, social media messages, or texts, and not all of us are planners. But if you’re always the person reaching out and trying to make plans, the friendship might not be reciprocated by the other person. You are worth a phone call. Don’t settle for less.
  3. Avoid gossip. If someone is gossiping to you about someone else, they most likely are talking about you when you aren’t around. Unless you enjoy being the topic of other people’s conversation, avoid people who talk about other people’s business. If someone shares something with you, even if they don’t say, “this is a secret,” don’t talk about it with someone else.
  4. Embrace people who embrace this life. It’s hard living away from home and family. For many of us, life in the military is a shock to our system – we aren’t used to the long hours, protocols and customs – but it’s much easier to embrace military life when you surround yourself with other families who enjoy it. As spouses, we are a part of military culture because we chose to marry and build a life with our service member. Oftentimes their desire to serve our country can be hard on us. But their commitment runs deep, just like our love for them. Surround yourself with people who have strong marriages and who are living their best MilLife.
  5. Remember you are the company you keep. The qualities you look for in other military spouses will be easier to spot if you possess them yourself.

Over the past 20 years, I have met hundreds of military spouses. We share a camaraderie that can’t be matched, but being a fellow military spouse is not enough to sustain a friendship. Finding your special few takes patience – it’s okay to let people come into and fade out of your life. The best people are the ones you can be your authentic self with. Hold onto those people, treasure them, love them and nurture those relationships. Your tribe is out there – you just need to build it, one healthy relationship at a time.


Marriage Minute: Handling in-laws during the holidays

Now that we’re in the holiday season, you may be concerned about handling interactions with your in-laws. The key to handling difficult in-laws is to maintain solidarity in your marriage.

Communicate your concerns to your partner. Ask your partner to stand up for you if needed, and make sure that your partner doesn’t tolerate any criticism or contempt directed at you from their parents.

Their parents may be surprised at first, but they’ll come to accept the change in attitude and may begin to soften their way of speaking to you.

The same strategy applies if your partner is concerned about your parents, so ask them what you can do to help defuse a difficult situation.

Remember, you both are on the same team.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 23 November 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.