Relationship Minute: Are you stewing on your break?

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking a break when you’re upset.

When one or both partners are flooded, it takes at least 20 minutes to calm down and be able to re-engage rationally.

But what if, after 20 minutes or so, you just feel more upset? What if you’re less overwhelmed, but filled with righteous anger? What if you’ve spent 20 minutes thinking of the perfect thing to say to nail your partner to the wall when you get back into it?

Once you’ve done the good work of suggesting a break, make sure you actually take it.

It’s okay—helpful even—to completely disengage from the argument to self-soothe.

Here are some things you can do on your break instead of stewing or ruminating.

    • Play a game on your phone (yes, this is fine!)
    • Go for a walk around the block
    • Watch TV (probably nothing too heavy or intense)
    • Spend time with a pet
    • Listen to music
    • Read a book
    • Focus on your breathing with a visual breathing exercise

Related blog posts

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

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Relationship Minute: Allow room for change

Does your relationship have space to accommodate change?

Who were you five years ago? How were you different six months ago?

In what ways has your partner changed that you’re grateful for, beyond maybe a questionable hairstyle or two?

How have you changed together, as a couple?

Evolution is not to be feared.

In relationships, the only constant is change. Embrace it.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 9 May 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Are you BRAVING?

In her SuperSoul Conversation, The Anatomy of Trust, Brené Brown introduces an acronym to help people build trust in their relationships.

She calls it BRAVING.

  • Boundaries: Are you clear about and respecting each other’s boundaries?
  • Reliability: Will you do what you say you will?
  • Accountability: Are you willing to own your mistakes?
  • Vault: Do you keep what is shared in confidence?
  • Integrity: Do you practice your values, rather than just professing them?
  • Non-judgment: Can you fall apart in front of each other without being judged? Do you refrain from judging yourselves for needing help
  • Generosity: Can you assume the most generous thing about the other person’s intent and behaviors, maintaining a positive perspective?

BRAVING can be hard to do, but the research shows that trust is built in the small, everyday interactions.

Be brave with your partner—to be truly seen is one of the greatest gifts we can offer and receive.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 2 May 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Wait 10 seconds before sending

Do you practice digital emotional intelligence?

There are a lot of ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to check in with yourself before hitting “send” on an email, Facebook post, tweet, or text.

Take 10 seconds to ponder these questions before you send:

  • Am I feeling defensive? Reactive? Angry?
  • What is my emotional state?
  • Would I say this to someone in person?
  • Is there a chance my tone could be misinterpreted, or that I have misinterpreted theirs?
It’s easy to compose a reactive response, forgetting that there is a human being on the other end of the screen. Emotional intelligence is a powerful muscle to build, especially with more and more interactions happening digitally.

In the long term, practicing digital emotional intelligence can set you up for more positive in-person interactions.

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

Relationship Minute: Witness, not fix this

When you see your partner in pain, your first instinct may be to offer advice or fix the problem to alleviate their suffering.

However, it can be more helpful to simply offer a listening ear. Acting as an empathetic witness to your partner’s struggles is often the most supportive move.

Offering advice can unintentionally communicate that you think they aren’t smart enough or capable of solving their own problems.

When in doubt, replace your solution with two magic words: “That sucks.”

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 18 April 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Use better words

People often use the same handful of adjectives to describe their partner: funny, smart, cute.

Today, take a minute to go deeper and come up with better, more specific qualities that you cherish about your partner.

Here are some examples:

  • Ambitious
  • Authentic
  • Compassionate
  • Dynamic
  • Generous
  • Nurturing
  • Perceptive
  • Reliable
  • Supportive
  • Thoughtful
  • Understanding

What other positive traits do they have?

For each quality, note one recent occasion when they displayed it. And then share with them.

Related blog posts

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

Relationship Minute: Emotional agility

The way you deal with your emotions shapes everything that matters: your actions, career, relationships, health, and happiness.

According to Harvard psychologist Susan David, emotional agility is the ability to apply the right emotion to the right person in the right situation at the right time.

It’s a process that enables you to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind.

It isn’t about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts. It’s about holding those emotions and thoughts loosely, facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to ignite change in your life.

Related blog posts

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