Relationship Minute: Anger simply is

In The Dance of Anger, Dr. Harriet Lerner writes,

Anger is neither legitimate nor illegitimate, meaningful nor pointless. Anger simply is.

To ask, “Is my anger legitimate?” is similar to asking, “Do I have the right to be thirsty? After all, I just had a glass of water fifteen minutes ago. Surely my thirst is not legitimate. And besides, what’s the point of getting thirsty when I can’t get anything to drink now, anyway?”

Anger is something we feel.

It exists for a reason and always deserves our respect and attention.

We all have a right to everything we feel—and certainly our anger is no exception.

All feelings, whether we label them as “good” or not, exist for a reason.Pain shows us what to pay attention to.

Pay attention to all your feelings, without judgment. They might hold some answers for you.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 23 January 2020. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Your 2020 Vision

Happy new year! Resolution-making and change may be on your mind this time of year. As the chaos of the holiday season subsides, take a moment to think about what shared meaning you would like to create in your relationship this year.

Talk about your goals together.

What would you like to accomplish as an individual this year? How can you support each other in those dreams?

What would you like to accomplish together?

Focus on what is truly meaningful for you, and what is realistic.

What rituals or regular moments of connection would you like to implement together? What would you like to keep doing?

When couples share a dream or vision for their future, the inevitable ups and downs of any relationship are more manageable. Even when the sea gets choppy, there’s comfort in knowing where you’re going and that everyone is on board.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 1 January 2020. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Give a Stress-Reducing Conversation

The holiday season is in full swing, which can mean extra stress, tension, and obligation to be “merry and bright.”

Treat your relationship to a Stress-Reducing Conversation and give each other the opportunity to vent about external factors without it affecting the relationship.

A few guidelines:

  • Take turns being the Complainer and the Listener.
  • When it’s your turn to complain, don’t complain about the relationship. Keep your complaints located in stressors outside of the dynamic between the two of you.
  • When it’s your turn to listen, take your partner’s side. Now is not the time to “play devil’s advocate.”
  • Stay in it. Tune in to your partner when you are the Listener and keep complaints from sliding into something personal when you are the Complainer.
  • Don’t try to solve your partner’s problems if they didn’t ask you to. Let it just be a time to vent.
  • Be kind. Offer affection and compassion to your partner with useful phrases like, “I can see why that would be stressful,” “That must have been hard,” or even just, “That sucks.”
A listening ear or a shoulder to cry on is a great gift to give your partner and something that could only come from you!
Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 12 December 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Give a doorway ritual

With all the hustle and bustle of the season—parties, shopping, deadlines, activities, and more—it can be hard to take a second to slow down and connect. Can you spare six seconds?

We’re big fans of the six-second kiss but you can make any small moment of connection into a doorway ritual.

A kiss.
A compliment.
A heartfelt “I love you.”
An inside joke.
A nice warm hug.

Connect every time you cross the threshold.

Studies show that passing through a doorway makes people forget—people often mentally mark the tasks they’re holding onto mentally as “complete,” whether they mean to or not.

So with all the coming and going this time of year, it’s even more important to remember to prioritize your relationship.

Related blog posts

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

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.