Relationship Minute: Halloween rituals of connection

Whether you’re dressing up in a costume today or not, Halloween is an opportunity to create rituals of connection in your relationship.

If you haven’t already, have a conversation with your partner about how you would like to celebrate. Here are some questions to get you started.

How did you celebrate Halloween in your family growing up?
What’s your favorite Halloween memory?
How do you want to celebrate Halloween in our relationship/family?

You may decide to celebrate Halloween in a traditional way by carving pumpkins together, or in your own way by watching a movie or cooking a festive meal together.

Regardless of what you do, rituals of connection are important because they build meaning in your relationship.

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 31 October 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: I’m feeling defensive

Feeling defensive is normal and natural. It’s what you do with that feeling that makes all the difference.

When confronted with something that makes you feel defensive (“the sink is full of dirty dishes!”), you have two options.

You can respond defensively: “Some of those dishes are yours! I haven’t had time!”

Or, you can check in with yourself and acknowledge how you’re feeling in the form of a repair attempt: “I’m feeling defensive.”

That statement works to get the conversation back on track.

You will likely feel defensive again in the future, but being aware of your reaction can turn the tide of a conversation for the better.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 15 October 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Tell me your feelings

In healthy relationships, partners are curious about each other’s feelings.

They adopt the motto, “When you’re hurt, the world stops and I listen.”

In unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, partners tend to ignore each other’s feelings.

They think to themselves, “I don’t have time for your negativity.”

So the next time your partner is upset, ask them to share their feelings with you⁠—and just listen.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 1 October 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: The uninvited party guest

Think of a conflict discussion as a dinner party you and your partner are throwing together.

You have certain guests you want to invite (Resolution, Repair Attempts, Humor, Permission to Take a Break). Then, there’s the guest you just know will show up no matter what—Negativity.

Negativity is usually the first to arrive. They smelled something cooking, didn’t bring a beverage or a dessert, and they waste no time making themselves at home.

You and your partner exchange glances. Negativity’s shoes are off and they’re already gnawing on a drumstick (Where did that even come from?).

How can you stop Negativity from taking over the party, alienating your other guests, and telling that same old story too loud like they did last time?

Mitigate.

Set boundaries with Negativity early. Don’t let them dominate the conversation.

For every one thing Negativity says, you agree to outweigh it with five positive contributions from the rest of the group. Friendship is there, and they’re on your side.

You and your partner are in this together.

With careful cooperation, you can keep Negativity from getting out of control and overstaying their welcome—at the party and in your relationship.

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 17 September 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: Dream Together

When was the last time you and your partner dreamed about your future together?

Our research shows that dreaming together creates shared meaning in a relationship. You don’t need to have the same dreams as your partner. You just need to support them.

If you’re dating or engaged, ask each other questions like, “Where do you want to live?” and “What do you want our home to look like?” and “How do you want to celebrate holidays?”

If you’re married, ask each other questions like, “Where do you see our marriage in five years?” and “Where do you want to travel together?” and “How do you want to raise our children?”

If you’re empty nesters, ask each other questions like, “How do you want to spend our retirement?” and “How do you want to be involved in the community?” and “What legacy do you want to leave?”

As you live your lives life together, it’s important—and fun—to talk about your dreams as a way to give purpose and meaning to your marriage.

Open-Ended Questions
For more Open-Ended Questions to facilitate meaning conversations, download Gottman Card Decks for free.

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 9 October 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: A stroll down memory lane

Your first date. Your first kiss. Your first anniversary. Your first vacation together.

What do you remember about those moments? What stands out to you now?

Taking a stroll down memory lane can be a powerful way to reconnect with your partner. Look through old photos or pull out your scrapbook if you need to jog your memory.

Periodically reflecting on the positive, not the negative, memories of your past experiences will bring back those good feelings and will keep your marriage strong for years to come.

Related blog posts

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 2 October 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: My spouse is a gamer

Here’s another great reader email.

I’d love to hear advice on how to deal with a spouse who is a gamer. My husband is much better than he was, and far better than some, but sometimes I feel that the games take precedence over our relationship and our time and that hurts.

Fortnite made headlines last week after being cited in more than 200 divorce proceedings in the United Kingdom.

Every relationship is different, so we don’t have rules about video game usage. Some people play games to decompress and that’s their thing.

We do recommend that you establish rules that work for you and your marriage.

What’s most important is how you talk about it. Remember the soft start-up formula: I feel ___, about ___, and I need ___. Make statements that start with “I” instead of “You.”

Don’t judge. Instead of accusing or blaming, just describe what you see and feel. This will help prevent your spouse from feeling attacked or getting defensive.

Again, it’s important to establish policies that feel fair to you both—and then to respect them.

Gaming addiction
If you think you or your partner may be suffering from a video game addiction, it’s best to seek the professional guidance of a trained therapist.

Related blog posts

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 27 September 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.