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. 

Marriage Minute: There’s something all couples fight about…

Take a guess. Money? Sex? Chores? Those are all good guesses, and likely accurate for many couples, but not true for all couples.

In an interview, Anderson Cooper asked John Gottman about the number one thing that couples fight about. His answer?

Nothing.

That’s right. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch!

For example, in the Love Lab, a couple fought over which TV show to watch. John determined that “it just happens” and they’re actually not fighting about the TV.

What they might really be fighting about is control, or sharing, or compromise. But none of that is expressed, so they’re really arguing over nothing!

So, if you find yourself in those kinds of fights with your partner, try to take a step back and ask them what’s really going. What’s the core issue here? What do they need from you? What do you need from them?

Related blog posts

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 7 August 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: What’s The Problem?

In the film Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s character meets with his staff to figure out how to replace some really good players. They have lots of advice, but they’re not listening to his perspective. He cuts them off and says, “Okay, so, what’s the problem?”

To put it simply: how can you come up with a solution without knowing what the real problem is?

This is especially important when your partner explains a problem that they’re facing. It feels natural and even helpful to offer advice right away, but that won’t help your partner feel understood.

The next time your partner comes to you with something they’re upset about—say, dealing with a difficult coworker—don’t try to solve anything. Just listen. Sympathize with them and ask them to tell you more.

It’s more important to show that you understand your partner than to offer advice, and it helps you to learn more about your partner and the problem at hand.

Related blog posts

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

Marriage Minute: Nobody likes a traffic jam

Imagine the gridlocked streets of Manhattan at rush hour. Or the snaking, unmoving line of cars going onto I-5 in Seattle. Who wants to be stuck in that?

The same kind of situation—gridlock—happens in relationships, and usually around perpetual, unsolvable problems. Which all relationships have.

The good news is that there’s a way out of that traffic jam. Unrealized life dreams are at the core of every gridlocked conflict, so you’ll need to find out what those dreams are. If you’re stuck in an argument, ask something like this:

What does this really mean to you? What do you need from me? Tell me more.

The key to breaking free of gridlock is to express fondness and admiration to your partner, to accept their faults, to understand yours, and to find ways to work around them and make both of your life dreams come true.

You’ll still have some bumps in the road, but that traffic will clear up for you and your partner to move forward.

Related blog posts

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 26 July 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Marriage Minute: Is love a choice?

Some think that love is (or is not) meant to be. And when we are in the thrill of new love, it often feels like you’re going along for the ride, like it’s happening to you and not the other way around.

But what about making a choice to love someone?

Every time you turn toward your partner instead of away, that is a choice.

Every time you listen empathetically to understand your partner’s perspective—even if you disagree—that is a choice.

Every time you express a positive need to your partner, and listen and respond to their needs, that is a choice.

Being intentional, attentive, mindful, and appreciative in your relationship are choices.

In which ways do you choose to love your partner?

Related blog posts

The Marriage Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 17 July 2018. You can sign up here to get The Marriage Minute delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.