Relationship Minute: Is Your Relationship Affecting Your Health?

In his research study with 100 couples, Dr. John Gottman found that couples that trust each other are happier and have better individual health. He said, “A stable, trusting relationship is linked to relatively high survival rates from cardiovascular disease, cancer, surgery, and other illnesses.”

Trust in a relationship helps couples feel safe enough to be vulnerable and open. According to the Sound Relationship House, trust paired with commitment keeps the structure of your relationship strong.

One of the best ways to build trust in your relationship is to attune to your partner. Ask them open-ended questions and listen actively when they speak. Seek to understand before you want to give advice or problem-solve. Remember that you are your partner’s safe space where they can be themselves without fear or judgment.

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

Relationship Minute: What’s Your Conflict Style?

When arguing with your partner, do you have a signature move? Is there something you do or say often in conflict?

Perhaps, you find yourself making critical statements like: “You never listen to me” or “You always get your way.” Maybe, when you’re really upset, you resort to name-calling and mocking. Or, 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 what you commonly do or say in an argument? They know the impact of your words and actions in conflict and have a unique perspective. For example, while you may think you’re pointing out objective facts, your partner feels attacked.

When you know how you fight, you can make the necessary changes and learn how to fight better.

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

Relationship Minute: The Power of Friendship

Are you friends with your partner?

Dr. John Gottman says that long-term romantic committed relationships are rooted in deep friendship. Being friends with your partner is the foundation that supports your ability to make good repairs, have great sex, and stay in a positive perspective.

Just like in platonic relationships, building a strong friendship requires intentional steps towards knowing each other. Here are a few ways to begin.

  • Try new activities together 
  • Ask open-ended questions 
  • Listen to each other’s stories 
  • Support your partner 

You and your partner are like your own team. You’ve got each other’s backs, and your friendship has the power to make your love last a lifetime.

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

Relationship Minute: The Power of Touch

Have you touched your partner today?

In “The Science of Trust,” Dr. John Gottman cites several research studies that show touch is an essential part of emotional connection.

It’s more than just sex (although that counts too!). You can massage, cuddle, hold hands, and practice other forms of intimate affection. Even a light stroke on the nape of the neck lets your partner know that you are there, you see them, and you desire to be close to them.

How do you like to be touched? Are there times of the day when you need it the most? Talk to your partner about your touch preferences and ask them for the same. Commit to showing each other physical affection and using the power of touch to strengthen your bond.

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

Relationship Minute: Embracing Relationship Changes

Nature is a powerful teacher. To embrace transformation, look no further than deciduous trees, who change color, shed their leaves, and grow anew with the seasons.

These trees change in their own time, at the exact pace they’re meant to, and without fixating on the last phase. That we know of, trees don’t spend all winter missing their fallen leaves. There is a quiet confidence that new leaves will grow, and it is all part of the process.

What if relationships are the same way? Moving and transforming through phases—each season lasting as long as it is meant to before yielding to the next.

This past year called for an abundance of grace, patience, and surrender. How can you and your partner embrace change as it continues to propel you forward? What changes have resulted in losses that you still need to grieve?

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

Relationship Minute: The Flames of Friendship

When you think about your closest friends, what comes to mind? Is it their best qualities and what you like about them? Or maybe you can think of some of their shortcomings, but you accept those as part of who they are—a loveable, imperfect person.

Do you hold the same regard for your partner? Or are they put through the lens of additional scrutiny, irritation, or judgment?

Imagine going out to a restaurant. As you look from table to table, it might be easy to guess which table is seated with close friends, which one hosts a first or second date, and who’s in a romantic relationship based on how engaged they are with each other. Sadly, you might guess that the couple spending most of their time on their phones has been together the longest.

One of the simple secrets to lasting love is feeding the flames of friendship. The sexy sizzle of romance ebbs and flows, but it’s the underpinning of friendship and positive regard that makes a relationship truly great.

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

Relationship Minute: Three Skills and One Rule

When it comes to having intimate conversations, there are three skills and one rule.

The rule is understanding must precede advice. Drs. John and Julie Gottman tell couples that these talks between lovers are not meant to problem-solve. Premature problem solving tends to shut people down. Advice should only begin when both people feel understood.

Skill #1: Putting Your Feelings into Words

In intimate conversations, finding the right words, phrases, images, or metaphors make talking about feelings much deeper.

Skill #2: Asking Open-Ended Questions

Help your partner explore their feelings by asking questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Consider: “How did that make you feel?” or “Tell me more about that.”

Skill #3: Expressing Empathy

You can show empathy by validating your partner’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. It means you understand where they’re coming from on a particular topic. Empathy looks like making genuine statements like, “I can see how you felt that way.” 

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

Relationship Minute: Are You Lonely in Love?

Many people enjoy being in a relationship for companionship and intimacy. You have someone with whom you can share your inner world.

But what happens when you’re in a relationship but still feel sad and lonely? Perhaps your partner feels distant even in the same room. When you talk, you don’t feel seen nor heard.

A myriad of reasons exists for unhappiness in couples (e.g., the presence of the Four Horsemen). One important factor many have in common, according to Dr. John Gottman, is that lonely people in relationships are not attuned to each other. They’re talking at one another— blaming and finger-pointing—rather than turning toward, showing empathy, and making understanding the goal.

In “The Science of Trust,” Dr. John Gottman tells couples that emotional attunement “is basically the skill they will need to create a relationship that really works for them.”

Are you emotionally attuned? Do you feel seen and heard in your relationship? Read more in the links below. Also, check out the latest from The Gottman Relationship CoachFeeling Seen and Heard is a new set of exercises, advice, and videos from the Gottmans explaining what makes a good listener and how to share your truth in a way your partner can understand.

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

Relationship Minute: Stop the World

“When you’re in pain, the world stops and I listen” – Dr. John Gottman

Part of being in a relationship means being there for your partner when they need you. In healthy, supportive partnerships, that means putting them first.

When your partner is hurting or needs your help, stop your world. You can do this in big and small ways.

In the moment, put down your phone, turn down (or turn off) the television, and give them your undivided attention.

On a larger scale, factor your partner’s needs into your schedule. You’ve likely got a lot of responsibilities and things to do. However, if you’re too busy for a daily Stress-Reducing Conversation and regular date nights, you’re too busy. Stop your world and make consistent connecting with your sweetheart part of your day.

So, that text message can wait and your to-do list will still be here tomorrow. Put everything down and turn toward your partner. When you both do this for each other, your relationship will be unstoppable.

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

Relationship Minute: Want a Happy Relationship? Don’t Do This

The #1 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.

Imagine your partner asks for a date night. Here are the types of harmful responses that you never want to say: 

  • Contemptuous response. Hurtful disrespecting comments such as insults (e.g., “Is that all you ever want?”) 
  • Belligerent response. Provocative or combative comebacks (e.g., “Are you saying I’m not there for you? Yeesh, what more do you want from me?”) 
  • Contradictory response. Less hostile than a belligerent response, but it still blocks the bidder’s attempt to connect (e.g., “Don’t we see each other enough already?”) 
  • Domineering response. Attempts to control the other person (e.g., “We don’t need another date night. We’re fine.”) 
  • Critical response. A broad-based attack on the bidder’s character (e.g., “Again with the date night! You’re such a nag.”) 

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. Avoid these relationship killers at all cost!

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