We have learned from the Gottman research what works in relationships. Relationship happiness occurs when couples establish a close friendship on a day-by-day basis. Increased intimacy sets the stage for a greater ability to manage conflict.
My wife and I had occasion to meet a new friend. Bud is in his eighties, has been married over 50 years, strong as a horse, sharp as a tack, and funny as all get out. Bud is a soft spoken man, exuding kindness, and a sort of wisdom that draws you in. He recalled the following story, sharing with Cindy and me that recently his neighbor Jim, was convinced that Bud was having marital problems.
The concept of a time release conversation relates to the importance for couples every once in a while to review an issue that falls into the “Perpetual Problem” category. This periodic conversation is a “slow-release” communication tools that diffuses an issue that otherwise builds and damages the relationship.
My wife and I took advantage of a little 24 hour get-a-way this weekend. These 24 hour breaks are a long-standing tradition of ours and one we had not done in a while. They are great because while we are able to take time for ourselves it doesn’t take all weekend, which then allows us time to manage some of the stuff that we need to take care of: not a bad compromise. So we were walking on a windy Northern California beach after sunset, when I noticed my wife had her warm little beanie on.
Where is our relationship at? How can I forgive my partner for what has happened? How can we go forward when my partner keeps talking about the past? Do we have a future? These are questions many couples struggle with in the counseling room, sorting through the mixture of ambivalent and often contradictory feelings about the relationship.
Some years ago I was in a session with a couple where they were taking stock of their relationship, discussing how each saw things. They shared with me how nice it was to focus on the positive in their relationship, not just talking about what wasn’t working. Things weren’t perfect, but noticing what was going right helped to cope with what wasn’t. That got me to think about the question of how couples measure their relationships. Lets listen to Mary Ann and David.
GPS technology is quite amazing; It knows where you are, tells you how to get to where you want to go, and how long it takes to get there. Not only that, but when you don’t follow directions correctly it doesn’t get mad, it makes adjustments and gently and without judgement, says things like, “When possible turn around”
How do you define intimacy in a relationship, what is it, how do you know when you have intimacy? The big question is how do we get there? Here is where we can learn from the “Masters of Relationships”, the research group Dr. John Gottman defines as people with long-term stable relationships who want to be with their partners,