How to Stay Connected
In Dr John Gottman's book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, he outlines seven things that successful couples do that unhappy couples don’t:
Learn about each other- This is something that military couples can do even when they are far apart from one another. When my husband and I were separated by work, we found that the experience of writing to each other rather than speaking with each other actually enhanced our intimacy.
Nurture fondness and admiration for each other-It’s important to remind yourself about why it is that you love the other person. This past Christmas I did something that's working very well for us. On 365 notes, I wrote something that I appreciate about him, why I love him, things that I enjoy doing with him, etc. I put the notes into a glass jar and every morning he pulls one out. He usually reads it to me and we are both reminded of our friendship and love for each other.
Turn toward each other instead of away-Just as you must nurture any friendship, it's important to nurture the friendship within your relationship. Spend time together. Talk about your days, shop for groceries together, play music together, take walks together, host a dinner party, etc.
Let your partner influence you-I'm not talking about saying, "Yes dear," to whatever he or she says. Each person is exactly that, an individual person, even within a relationship. However, every partnership, even a romantic one, is about collaboration, talking things out between you, and keeping an open mind.
Solve solvable problems-Some problems are just not solvable. Okay, but if it can be fixed, fix it. Gottman cautions us to stay soft when attempting to bring up a difficult topic. Avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Then, if things get tense, be prepared to de-escalate the tension. Try to stay soft and gentle and remember compromise. Finally be tolerant of each other's faults. We've all got them.
Overcome gridlock-When one person's dreams or values are neither accepted nor respected by the other, your relationship is in deep trouble. It's important to work these things out as a team. Neither person should try to manipulate the other into giving up their dream.
Create shared meaning-Build an atmosphere where you are both able to talk honestly and openly about your convictions. Be candid and respectful. You may find that even when you differ in what you do, you may find that the reasons behind why you do those things are common ground. Find that shared meaning.
Question: What do you do to keep your relationship harmonious and happy?