- Psychologists and married couple Julie and John Gottman have been studying relationships for 40 years.
- They used their findings to create helpful books and couple therapy methods to increase intimacy.
- Their “wedding minute” exercises help partners find small ways to improve their daily connections.
- Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.
John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman are psychologists and a married couple who have collectively spent 40 years looking for relationships. The Gotmans have turned their findings into self-help books such as “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Love Life, ”and created a couple therapy method called The Gottman Method.
As part of their mission to help people improve their relationships, the Gottmans have also launched “Marriage Minutes” exercises in the form of free weekly newsletter.
As the name suggests, each exercise takes only a minute to complete, and allows couples to reflect on how they can improve communication, understanding, and intimacy with each other.
Although much of the advice is aimed at romantic couples, the Gottmans have said the exercises can benefit everyone looking for healthier connections.
“Our goal is to teach you something by email that will deepen your friendship, allow you to use conflict as a catalyst for closeness, and enhance the love story in your partnership. And everyone should take about a minutes or more to read. It’s an easy way to get into the health habit of relationships, ”the Gottmans said he wrote on their website.
Insider talked to the couple therapists about how partners can build healthier and deeper bonds.
Learn the difference between privacy and secrecy
According to the Gottmans, there is nothing wrong with keeping certain things in your private life, even from your partner.
But it is important to know the difference between confidentiality and secrecy.
“It’s okay to keep certain things private from your partner. They don’t need to know every little detail. Secrets, on the other hand, can be toxic. When something private is accompanied by shame, it becomes a secret,” the Gottmans said. written.
They say that couples should learn to respect each other’s privacy while acknowledging even when you are actively hiding something from your partner.
Refrains and complaints for squeezing and your underlying emotions
To better communicate your needs to your partner, the Gottmans have suggested reformulating the complaints to get to the heart of the matter.
If you commonly say to your partner, “It always works on your computer,” consider the reasons below why you don’t like that habit. You may lack quality time and connections with your partner, for example.
“Under the complaint there is a desire to connect, but the recipient does not always see it. Instead, they see the complainant as an opponent. So the next time you go to complain, ask yourself, ‘What do I need?’ “” the Gottmans wrote.
Watch when you feel defensive, and name it
Similarly, learning to recognize defensive feelings can increase communication in relationships, according to the Gottmans.
“The defensive sense is normal and natural. It’s what you do with that sense that makes all the difference,” they wrote.
Instead of answering when you feel defensive, ask yourself why you feel that way.
They gave the example of a colleague who said, “The sink is full of dirty dishes.”
A defensive response might sound like, “Some of these dishes are yours! I haven’t had the time!”
Gottmans have suggested saying “I feel defensive” directly to your partner when these feelings present themselves so the conversation becomes productive, rather than an argument.
“You’ll probably feel defensive again in the future, but being aware of your reaction can change the tide of a conversation for the better,” the Gottmans wrote.
Remember that conflict is inevitable
Although the Gotmans want couples to be better communicators, they also recognize that all relationships will end in conflict.
Instead of avoiding conflict, they suggest replacing a disagreement as an opportunity to learn more about your partner and their needs.
“It’s how you approach conflict in your relationship that makes all the difference. In fact, not all conflicts will result in an argument. It can be productive,” they wrote.
Don’t fight for the text
You should also avoid discussing text messages, e-mails, or other text-based methods, according to the Gottmans.
“It’s a lot easier to say things that don’t really mean it when you type them on a keyboard,” they wrote.
In case you or your partner start to get heated on the text, the Gottmans have suggested writing one of the following messages:
- I don’t like where this is going. Can we talk about this at home tonight?
- I feel defensive. Can we talk on the phone about this later?
Next, you can hash it out.
Learn your triggers and share them with your partner
If you notice a specific habit that your partner is going to make you regularly feel upset, annoyed, or sad, consider examining those emotions in more depth.
“In a recent episode of it podcast, Mark Groves explains that “if it’s hysterical, it’s historic,” the Gottmans write. “What this means is that if you have a ‘hysterical’ reaction to something that seems insignificant (like a pile of mail piling up), there’s probably something in your past that’s triggered you.”
For example, your reaction to your partner’s lack of respect for the mail stack might actually symbolize the unheard of or unimportant feeling.
“So the next time you’re shot, be curious. What’s in it for you and why? Try to share this with your partner,” they wrote.
Be intentional when you spend time with your partner
It can be hard to disconnect from our internet life, but the Gottmans say doing so will strengthen your relationship.
They said reframe date night or quality time with your partner as a “feature presentation”.
“Be intentional about your time together,” they wrote.
Create a unique couple ritual
In addition to the dates given, the Gottmans have suggested creating a small daily action to strengthen the connection between you and your partner.
They call it a “door ritual” because it signals that your separation time is over and that you are connected.
“We’re big fans of the six-second kiss, but you can make a small connection moment in a door ritual, “the Gottmans wrote. They also suggested the following options:
- A compliment.
- A heart “I love you.”
- An internal joke.
- A nice warm hug.