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. 

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. 

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.