Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Powerful Relationship Tip

This is the most powerful tip in John Gottman's fine book on relationships, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:

Every day presents many tiny but collectively crucial opportunities to turn to rather than turn away from your partner. Examples:

Your partner says "Again, you're too tired?" Don't shrug. That's turning away. Say, "Yes. Look what's happened to Mr. Stud. What can we do? (Note that contains another useful technique: de-escalate. Remember, too to look for de-escalating statements from your partner. Even a muttered, let's take a break" counts.)

Your partner yells at you for being inconsiderate. Don't say, "You're always inconsiderate of me!" Make a conciliatory gesture, even a humorous one such as playfully sticking your tongue out at her with a glint in your eye.

Your partner says, "I got a speeding ticket." Don't say, "Speeding again?" Say, "I know you enjoy driving fast. I am so sorry. " (Note: This response contains another key to improving a relationship: start gently. Especially effective is a startup statement that shows you understand the person's perspective.)

In the morning, your partner says, "I had a nightmare last night." Don't say, "I gotta run." Say, "Gotta run. Can it wait until tonight?"

Marriages are strengthened far more by turns-to than by romantic vacations. In fact, your relationship may simply be the sum of the turns-to minus the turns-away.


Anonymous said...

I like the examples from this book. In fact, the replies would be suitable for friends as well. Interestingly, I find myself offering similiar replies when my friends confide in me. Unfortunately, most do not reciprocate. Often times I am on the receiving end of a lecture or a scolding. I think it's time for new friends.


Anonymous said...

Here are even tinier but collectively crucial opportunities to turn toward your partner:

A: Thank you.
B: You're welcome.

A: Your shirt looks great.
B: Thank you.

A: I wish to discuss something with you.
B: Ok, when's good.

In long-term relationships B often jumps on these opportunities to say nothing, thereby turning away.

Dr. Michael R. Edelstein


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