Relationship Minute: Why Nothing Is Actually Something

Are you and your partner arguing about nothing? 

Reflecting on arguments they’ve had, many couples will say, “I don’t even remember why it started,” or, “It was over nothing.” Arguments and conflict may begin to feel frustrating or unresolved for you.

There is a reason you’re arguing with your partner. Dreams, deeply held values, and beliefs lie at the root of every conflict you and your partner have, even if it seems silly at first.

For example, you might dismiss a squabble over who gets to pick the movie for date night as “fighting about nothing.” But, if you investigate why it turned into a tiff at all, you might remember that your opinion or taste was often dismissed by your family growing up. Or maybe your partner is feeling like they aren’t being heard in the relationship or don’t have an equal say.

Next time you find you and your partner arguing about “nothing,” consider that it might actually be “something” and take the opportunity to learn, to connect, and to be a better partner.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Learn How to Start Again

Imagine you and your partner are hanging around the house on the weekend. You’re busy working on your computer, and your partner comments on how they would love to go to the park with you. You ignore your partner, immersed in your work. You’ve just turned against your partner’s bid for connection.

A relationship killer is turning against each other’s bids for emotional connection

“Turning against” happens when your partner reaches out to you and you reject them. Whether intentional or not, it damages the very fabric of your partnership. And it doesn’t just happen when you ignore your partner. Hurtful comments, provocative comebacks, and criticism are other possibilities. 

The build-up of such responses creates a deep divide between you two. The more of these you and your partner experience, the more likely they are to destroy your partnership entirely.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Changing Goals Into Habits

So, how has that New Year’s resolution to improve your relationship turned out? After six months, do you see any change in how you and your partner interact with each other?

By summer, most resolutions are long forgotten because good intentions must be backed up with daily focused habits. If your goal was to have a better relationship in 2021, there’s still time to turn things around. It starts with the seemingly ordinary actions towards your partner that you do every day.  

Think simple. Make a habit of sending each other love notes via text when you’re apart. Tell your partner a joke that makes them laugh. Make sure your grocery list includes that one tiny indulgence that they love. Propose trying a fun new activity together.

Dr. John Gottman says, “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” Every day you can do a little and make a big difference in your partnership.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Start a Love Journal

Have you ever used a gratitude journal? You write the things you’re grateful for, at least three per day. Studies have found that practicing gratitude can help people sleep better, lower stress, and encourage positivity.

What if you used the same approach for your relationship?

Find an old journal, a notepad, or even the notes app in your phone and write three things you love about your partner. The list might include qualities they’ve had for as long as you’ve known them (such as being a great listener or how they make you laugh), something they display in small moments (such as how well they sing or remember special occasions), or something they did in the last 24 hours (such as doing the dishes last night or making you coffee this morning).

Does your partner do anything that inspires you or makes you go “Whoa! You’re amazing”? Consider sharing it with them and see how this open communication influences your relationship.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Your Code Word for Repair

It’s always tough to find the right words after fighting with your partner. Oftentimes, you may resort to silence, waiting for the other person to speak up first. This is where repair attempts come in.

Consider coming up with an agreed-upon word or phrase that signals to you both that one of you is attempting to make a repair. This can be silly and random like “cookies” (in fact, levity is a great tension-breaker), or something stronger such as “What can I do?” or “Tell me what you need from me.” Whatever you choose, be sure you both agree that, when one of you says this code word, it means you want to restore your connection.

And during the next neutral opportunity, be sure to ask your partner, “What’s our code word for repair?”

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Is Your Conflict Style Harming Your Relationship?

When you argue with your partner, you may find yourself making critical statements like: “You never listen to me” or “You always get your way.” Or, when you’re really upset, you resort to name-calling and mocking. Maybe as soon as things get heated, you shut down completely and the silent treatment goes into effect.

Every couple fights, but not every couple knows how to fight in a healthy way. In the heat of the moment, you may be prone to rely on old communication habits, no matter how unhelpful they are.

Take time today to think about your conflict style. Ask your partner how you frequently act during an argument. This will help you learn how to navigate conflict without resorting to criticism and contempt.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Your Relationship Deserves a Fresh Start

Have you gotten into a fight with your partner recently? Maybe your partnership has become stale and boring? Do you feel like you need to get your relationship back on track? 

Sit down with your partner and decide how you want to grow as a couple. Determine what areas of your relationship need a refresh. Where do you see yourselves at this time next year?

This is a chance to put away the old routines and embrace new ways of loving one another. Commit to communicate more effectively and make positive changes in your relationship. This could be the beginning of something beautiful!

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Maintaining Trust & Commitment

In order for your relationship to flourish, you must learn to be supportive of your partner’s dreams, make time for playfulness, gain shared meaning together, and maintain trust and commitment.

Is your partnership lacking in any of these areas? 

Commit some time today to assess your relationship. Are there areas of opportunity? What can you do to strengthen your connection?

Making (or renewing) a commitment to one another is a big step. As you embark on this new journey of Trust and Commitment, you’ll have shared goals and new dreams to hope for, and plenty of time for fun and play. Just remember to soak in all the intimacy and romance along the way!

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Does Your Relationship Need More Adventure?

In studies of couples coming in for counseling, 80% said that fun had come to die in their relationships.

When was the last time you and your partner did something new and exciting together? When was the last time you laughed uncontrollably together, tried a new hobby, or planned a trip to look forward to?

Don’t let yourself get so consumed by chores monotony that your relationship becomes stale and boring. Make sure you build in time for fun and adventure, both big and small. 

So, go play! It’s good for you both.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Dream Together

What’s your dream for your relationship? Where do you see yourselves in five years? Or 10 years?

Envisioning your life together isn’t something that you do one time. No matter how long you’ve been together, you can also share new hopes and dreams about your future.

Find time today to sit down with your partner when you don’t have too many distractions. Ask them to imagine themselves in the year 2025. What are they doing? Where do you both live? What do they hope to have accomplished?

Even if you have different perspectives of that dream, look to find commonalities. Where do your dreams sound similar? Is there an opportunity to accept influence and aim for new goals?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.