Marriage Minute: Saying “I’m sorry” is magical

We all make mistakes from time to time. When we do, saying “I’m sorry” is magical because it lets your partner know that you understand and respect them, which helps to bring you both closer together.

Try to be specific about why you’re apologizing, and try to explain how you felt when things went wrong:

I had been very stressed and irritable.
I hadn’t expressed much appreciation toward you.
I had been running on empty.

This will help your partner understand where you’re coming from. It will open you both up to calmly expressing what you need and how you feel.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 19 October 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: The one big thing

The one big thing in marriage is trust.

Can I trust you to be there for me when I’m upset? 

Can I trust you to choose me over your friends?

Can I trust you to respect me?

We’ve learned that trust is built in very small moments. In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner.

Turn towards bids for connection. Express appreciation for each other. Brag about each other’s talents and achievements. Say “I love you” every day.

Trust us.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 14 September 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: The Grass is Greener

In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away. One single moment is not that important, but if you’re consistently choosing to turn away, then trust erodes.

When this happens, you begin to focus on your partner’s flaws. You forget about their traits you admire and value.

Eventually you start making what researcher Caryl Rusbult calls “negative comparisons.” You start to compare your spouse to someone else, real or imagined, and you think, “I can do better.”

Invest in your marriage instead. Express appreciation for each other. Brag about each other’s achievements. Say “I love you” every day.

The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 31 August 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: Response Ability

We’ve all been defensive. Defensiveness is self-protection in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack, and it’s one of the Four Horsemen that predicts divorce.

The antidote to defensiveness is to accept responsibility for your role in the issue.

Think about the word responsibility.

Response. Ability.

You have the ability to respond with patience and kindness. The key is to be aware of your triggers. And to understand the difference between a perceived attack and an actual one.

Let that awareness inform your response ability.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 20 July 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: The Weekly Meeting

Research has shown that spending just one hour per week discussing areas of concern in your relationship can transform the way you and your partner manage conflict. We call this the weekly “State of the Union” meeting.

Here’s how to do it. Begin by talking about what went right since your last meeting. Then give each other five appreciations you haven’t yet expressed. Try to be specific.

Next, discuss any issues that may have arisen. Use gentle start-up and listen non-defensively. Take turns being the speaker and the listener. Only after each other feels heard and understood do you move on to problem solving.

End by asking each other, “What can I do to make you feel loved this week?”

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 3 August 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: Explore Roles Together

It is suggested that couples create shared meaning by exploring roles together.

Our sense of place in the world is based to a great extent on the various roles we play — we are spouses, perhaps children and/or parents, and workers of one kind or another.

Start by having a conversation about the meanings of the words “husband” and “wife.”

What do these roles mean?
What did they mean in your house growing up?
What assumptions do you have about each of those roles?
What is similar?
What is different?

You won’t see eye to eye on every philosophical or spiritual aspect of life, but the more you understand each other, the more connected you’ll feel.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 27 July 2017. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.