According to the Gottman Institute, happy couples reconnect each day they are apart by having a “Stress-Reducing Conversation.” Here are the steps you should follow (along with the pitfalls you should avoid) to make the most of those talks with your special someone:
- Take Turns.Each partner gets to talk for 15-20 minutes.
Fret not! You do not need to hire a babysitter in order to carve out enough time to connect with your partner. Just 30-40 minutes a day (15-20 minutes each) makes all the difference in the world! There’s no need to get out the stopwatch but try to shoot for this amount of time. While marathon talks can be overwhelming to one partner, cutting conversations too short may leave one partner feeling neglected.
- This time is for connection—–NOT CORRECTION
Yes, it’s called a “stress-reducing” conversation but this doesn’t mean that if your partner has been stressing you out that you should unload on him/her during this time together. Work stress, family/friend issues and even the traffic you experienced on the way home are all acceptable options just to name a few. The only thing off limits is pointing a finger at your partner! Additionally-if you score big and have nothing stressing you out one day (First, consider writing a book so you can share your secret to success with the world!) feel free to use this time to talk about the parts of your life that are currently bringing you joy! #winning
- Communicate your understanding and validate your partner’s feelings.
Whatever is on your partner’s mind might not be something that would ever make the cut for your personal list of complaints. This doesn’t mean you can’t relate to the actual feelings your partner is experiencing. No matter the emotion (sadness, hopelessness, fear, worry, etc.) surely you know what it’s like to have that feeling or can at least imagine what it might be like. Show your partner that you understand and let them know their feelings are valid. Using short phrases that indicate understanding and support may help you achieve this step.
-That sounds hard!
-Geez, what a day you’ve had!
-I’m so sorry that happened to you.
-I can only imagine how tough that was…
- DO NOT GIVE UNSOLICITED ADVICE!
- Do not give advice
- Do not give advice
- For real, no advice
You get the idea. This may sound obvious in theory, but I assure you that in practice it can be quite challenging. Often times partners have the absolute best intentions when they offer up solutions. However, trying to fix whatever is ailing your significant other may have a less than helpful impact. Sometimes taking the “fix it” approach results in the other person feeling attacked or misunderstood. People want to feel understood and that’s best achieved through validation.
- Really pay attention.
Your partner can probably tell when you’re really listening and when you’re phoning it in. Try your best to show genuine interest by not allowing your mind or your eyes to wander. Minimizing distractions by turning down the radio, muting the television and in general, refraining from multitasking are all ways you can show your partner what they have to say is important to you.
Just like any other skill, practice will lead to improvement. Consider designating a specific place and time you and your partner engage in your daily stress-reducing conversations. Some couples find that reconnecting as soon as they get home works best while others prefer to get further into their evening routine. The choice is 100% yours to make, keeping in mind that making it a part of your routine will likely increase success!