Relationship Minute: What Are Your Perpetual Problems?

In his book “The Relationship Cure,” Dr. John Gottman says, “a full 69 percent of all marital conflicts never go away.” Dr. Gottman calls them perpetual problems, which are any issues where you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye no matter how often it comes up.

You can have perpetual problems about anything. Maybe you can’t settle on a financial budget that works for both of you or you keep fighting about who does most of the housework. These conflicts come up again and again without lasting resolution.

What are your perpetual problems? Where do you and your partner constantly meet in conflict? Part of living and loving through your issues is acknowledging they exist.

Set aside time today to note where you and your partner tend to repeatedly butt heads. If you’re comfortable, do this with your partner during a time when you’re both calm. That can look like asking, “Did you ever notice we argue every time someone has to clean the kitchen?” Or mention, “It feels like money has been a touchy subject for a long time. Am I wrong?

Recognizing perpetual problems is the first step in learning to manage the conflict around them.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Signs of Flooding

You have possibly taken time to note the signs of flooding that you exhibit when you’ve reached your max in an argument. However, can you tell when your partner is overwhelmed?

Is it obvious like raising their voice or shutting down completely? Or is it something more subtly, such as the changing of eye color or a face that looks flushed?

It’s important to know when your partner is physiologically flooded during conflict, especially if their tell-tale sign is a “blink and you’ll miss it” characteristic. With this information, you can help bring a fight back from the brink by noting what’s happening and initiating a time-out.

Hey, honey, it seems like you’re getting upset. Let’s take a breather. 

Okay, time-out. Things are getting heated and I can see it. Can we go cool off? 

Think back to your last argument and jot down physical traits, gestures, or movements that your partner did that could signal flooding. Or better yet, ask them. They can give you insight into the little things they do that you can pick up on. Once you know the signs of flooding in conflict from both yourself and your partner, you’re more likely to change course and head for calmer seas.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Changing Goals into Habits

Most new year’s resolutions fail because good intentions must be backed up with daily focused habits. If your goal is to have a better relationship in 2021, 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. Clean after dinner, especially if your partner was the one who cooked. Always make sure your grocery list includes that one tiny indulgence that they love. And if you’re not sure, commit to routinely asking your partner, “What can I do for you today?”

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. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: What a Therapist can do for you

A new year means setting intentions and goals for where you’d like to be. Is your relationship on that list? Even couples with decades together have areas where they need a boost, such as their communication skills and conflict management styles. This is where quality couples counseling comes in.

Committing to therapy in the new year means you don’t have to figure out how to solve your relationship problems on your own. A therapist can give you individualized support for your goals as partners in the life you live now. Whether your issues involve caregiving, parenting, or work-life balance, this highly trained professional can help you figure out how to solidify your partnership in spite of your unique stressors.

Also, counseling is not just for couples in trouble! Therapy specialized to your needs will guide you to keep a good thing going strong and give you customized tools to tackle any obstacle that may arise.

This year, don’t settle for the status quo. Prioritize your union and improve your staying power as a couple by finding a therapist. Your relationship is worth it.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Give Your Partnership a New Start

The close of 2020 hopefully brings some relief as this year had seemingly endless challenges.

As you contemplate the new year and make plans for a fresh start, consider adding your relationship to your resolution list. How do you want to grow as a couple in 2021? Where do you want to see yourselves at this time next year?

You and your partner deserve a fresh start. It’s a chance to put away the old ways and routines and embrace a new way of loving one another. So, when the clock strikes midnight and the world rolls into a new year, give your relationship a new start as well. Commit to communicate better and learn more about each other. Resolve to be intentional about your partnership every day. This could be the beginning of something beautiful.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: The ‘Best of’ Moments in Your Relationship

If the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is known for one thing, it’s “Best of the Year” lists. From the biggest news stories to the hottest music hits, everyone is talking about the great (and not so great) moments of the past year.

How about your relationship? Have you thought about the best moments?

It was a challenging year; however, if you sit down with your partner and remember the events—both small and big—you may find some good times sprinkled in that bonded you and brought you joy.

Whether you just found each other in 2020 or your partnership is decades old, pause and reflect on your year together. What were the highs? What were the lows? And what are you looking forward to most in the new year?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Where the Love Light Gleams

Due to the pandemic, it’s likely that your holiday traditions look very different this year. Whether that means you’re not traveling to see extended family or the dinner table has fewer seats than usual, the changes to your rituals can stir up many different emotions from grief to even anxiety.

It’s okay to mourn the loss of this season the way it used to be. At the same time, remember that the joy of this season is the togetherness of people we love and that doesn’t change even if it’s only you and your partner. When you two are with each other, that can be just as special as a house full of people.

If you can’t be home for the holidays, remember that home is wherever “the love light gleams,” as the old song says. So long as you have your partner, you have a lot of love right in this moment—just the two of you.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: The Gift of Trust & Commitment

As you implement all the levels of the Sound Relationship House, remember that together, trust and commitment support the structure. They are the weight-bearing walls that keep your relationship from falling apart. Although they seem like a no-brainer, Dr. John Gottman found them essential for guarding against the storms of life.

How much you trust each other and how committed you both are to your relationship makes all the difference. Your faith in one another is not only built from responding to bids and learning your Love Maps, but it strengthens your ability to stay together. The more you act on your trust and commitment, the more it will secure your relationship and give you space to keep doing the work of staying in love.

Give your relationship the gift it really needs this season. You’ll find trust and commitment go together to uphold the tenets of your partnership and give you both the shelter and security that will keep you warm all year long.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Make Memories on Purpose

The top level of the Sound Relationship House is “Create Shared Meaning.” Couples that engage in rituals of connection further bond with each other by holding the same thoughts and feelings around shared aspects of their life together.

This time of year, that can look like being intentional about making memories. What activities can you do as a couple or a family that will remind you of this moment for years to come? Whether you go for a walk in your neighborhood with a travel mug of hot chocolate or make a special craft, doing it together routinely builds habit and connection.

So, make some memories today. Plan ahead to make it a special time together. The more shared meaning you find on purpose, the deeper and richer your relationship will be. 

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Dream Together

Near the top of the Sound Relationship House is a level called “Make Life Dreams Come True.” On this floor, you build up your partnership by helping each other accomplish long- and short-term goals.

Do you know what your partner’s dreams are? What is that thing they’ve always wanted to do? Even if you think you already know, remember that dreams change over time. You can ask them what they want out of life. Then, ask yourself what you can do to help make that happen.

Today, dream together. In this unpredictable world, set your cynicism aside and let your thoughts go wild with the possibilities. You may find that you have similar hopes for the future, and if you work together, you can see them all come true. 

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.