Relationship Minute: Before You Go to Bed Tonight

How you end your day in a relationship can be just as important as how it begins. As tempting as it is to mutter “good night” and roll over to your side, you don’t want to miss this golden opportunity to be intimate with your partner.

Every day you need a stress-reducing conversation with your partner where you both get to talk about stressors outside of your relationship. Making this part of your bedtime routine.

Asking “how was your day” is a good start, but more specific open-ended questions invite your partner to share in detail. For example, say, “Tell me about a moment today when you felt proud of yourself” or “Did you feel anxious or upset at any point today? What was going on?” You can also get even more specific. Ask “You had that big project at work today. How did that go?” or “I heard you on the phone earlier and you sounded tense. What happened?”

Remember, this isn’t a time to problem-solve unless your partner asks you to. Mostly this is when you listen to them with your undivided attention. No phones. No television. No one else around. You have time, space, and privacy to have an intimate conversation.

Try it out tonight. Before you go to bed, turn toward your partner with a listening ear. It’s just one of many ways to build intimacy between you.

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

Relationship Minute: Are You Listening?

The concept of “active listening” can be challenging to apply, especially in conflict or a tense conversation. It’s not mindlessly saying “mmhm” or “oh wow,” and it’s not chiming in, interrupting, or talking over.

Active listening is all about engaging with your partner, and it’s a skill built over time. Here are some quick tips for better listening.

DO: 

  • Tune in to what the other person is saying. Stay curious. 
  • Make understanding a goal. Confirm what you heard with the speaker to see if you have it right. 
  • Repair if you interrupt, get distracted, become defensive, or misunderstand. 
  • Ask clarifying questions. 
  • Inhabit the role of a passenger on the speaker’s train of thought. Follow their journey, at their pace. 
  • Be aware of how much time you spend talking in the conversation. 

DON’T:

  • Spend your time planning what you are going to say next/waiting for your turn to speak. 
  • Try to “fix” things or offer unsolicited advice. 
  • Split your focus between the speaker and your phone or something else. Multitasking is a fallacy. 
  • Try to finish or anticipate what the speaker is saying. 
  • Take what the other person is saying so personally that you become defensive and unable to hear their side. 
  • Completely shut down your own reaction to what the other person is saying. Your feelings and reactions are valid and it’s good to pay attention to what comes up for you. 

Next time you have a conversation with your partner, or even a friend, family member, or colleague, think about how much time you spend talking/sharing and how much time you spend listening? What might you implement to bring more balance to that?

Related Blog Posts:

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

Relationship Minute: Listen out loud

The concept of “active listening” can be challenging to apply, especially in conflict or a tense conversation. Or it may feel false to you, like a character in a movie who sets the phone down and keeps saying “mmhm,” “oh wow” to the speaker on the other end. Some may even interpret “active listening” to be chiming in, interrupting, or talking over.

Instead, practice engaged listening, and remember that it’s a skill built over time. Here are some quick tips for better listening.

DO:

  • Tune in to what the other person is saying. Stay curious. 
  • Make understanding a goal. Confirm what you heard with the speaker to see if you have it right. 
  • Repair if you interrupt, get distracted, become defensive, or misunderstand. 
  • Ask clarifying questions. 
  • Inhabit the role of a passenger on the speaker’s train of thought. Follow their journey, at their pace. 
  • Be aware of how much time you spend talking in the conversation. 

DON’T: 

  • Spend your time planning what you are going to say next/waiting for your turn to speak.
  • Try to “fix” things or offer unsolicited advice. 
  • Split your focus between the speaker and your phone or something else. Multitasking is a fallacy. 
  • Try to finish or anticipate what the speaker is saying.
  • Take what the other person is saying so personally that you become defensive and unable to hear their side. 
  • Completely shut down your own reaction to what the other person is saying. Your feelings and reactions are valid and it’s good to pay attention to what comes up for you. 

Next time you have a conversation with your partner, or even a friend, family member, or colleague, think about how much time you spend talking/sharing and how much time you spend listening? What might you implement to bring more balance to that?

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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.