1. Express Interest in Your Partner
Happy couples are familiar with each others’ world. They know their partner’s favorite ice cream, little details about their childhoods, what they’re stressed about at work, what their dreams are.
Get curious about what’s going on in your partner’s world! It can be as easy as asking, “How was your day?” and sticking around for the answer.
In a study John Gottman’s study on healthy couples (Masters) and unhealthy couples (Disasters), Masters responded to their partners attempts to initiate conversation 86% of the time. The Disasters only responded 33% of the time. Hint, hint…
There’s a great app here to help you learn more about your special one. It’s called “Love Maps.” My partner and I play this on long road trips!
2. Share your fondness and admiration
No one’s perfect. Your partner may forget to put the cap on the toothpaste, be annoying indecisive, or work too much.
Despite their thorns, there are hopefully many things that you love and admire about your partner. When we nurture our fondness and admiration for our partner, we find it easier to accept their weaknesses and flaws.
In simple terms, admiration and fondness PROTECT us against contempt, a real relationship killer.
Here’s an easy way to build up some admiration and fondness:
Make a list of the positive qualities you appreciate about your partner. For each quality, write down a specific example of how your spouse has displayed this quality. Write it down. Share it with each other.
To check in with the amount of Fondness and Admiration in your own relationship, check out this Gottman Assessment
3. Let you partner influence you
Healthy couples operate as a team, and know that what they do individually almost always impacts the relationship (both positively and negatively). The goal is to respect and honor your partner’s desires, perspectives, and feelings while finding common ground.
Talk to your spouse before you buying that new 78”screen TV or about where to put the new sofa. Let them know that their input is important to you and include them in the decision making process. It’s not about power or one person taking the reigns. It’s about making each person feel heard, acknowledged, and respected.
With Real Love,