UNDERSTANDING EACH OTHER: THE FIRST PART OF THE STATE OF THE UNION MEETING
How you and your partner fight directly influences how emotionally connected and passionate your relationship is.
After four decades of research on thousands of couples, Dr. Gottman noticed that the Masters of relationships fought differently than the Disasters. The Masters focused on attuning to each other by seeking to understand before problem-solving, whereas the Disasters consistently devolved into the Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
To help couples successfully navigate issues like the Masters instead of the Disasters, Dr. Gottman created a weekly meeting called “The State of the Union.”
STOP TRYING TO FIX YOUR PARTNER’S FEELINGS
One of our deepest needs as humans is to feel understood, and true understanding is not possible without empathy. As psychologist Carl Rogers put it, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”
Think back to a time when you were listened to and really felt heard. How did it feel to be seen as you were?
The last letter in Dr. Gottman’s ATTUNE model is E and it stands for Empathy. Brené Brown describes empathy beautifully in this brief animated video.
5 RITUALS TO RECONNECT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
In his book The Intentional Family, Bill Dougherty discusses “rituals of connection” as an important tool for successful relationships. A ritual of connection is a way of regularly turning towards your partner that can be counted on.
Erica and Rob, both in their late forties, have been happily married for ten years and are raising three children. When I asked Rob about the rituals in their marriage, he reflects:
We hug every day when I get home because physical touch is one of my Love Languages. Erica is not as affectionate as I am, but she’s up for it because she know’s how important it is to me.
TO THE WOMAN WHO MADE ME A FATHER—THANK YOU
To the mother of my children,
That day was such a blur. We hardly knew what was happening to us. It didn’t help that she was two weeks early. Or that she was born on New Year’s Day just hours after we’d gone “all in” on one final kidless party. I will be forever grateful for the triage nurse who finally admitted us so that I could get a nap.
You were incredible that day. That whole nine months. I remember we discovered we were pregnant the day before Mother’s Day. Four days later we were the proud owners of a timeshare in Cabo San Lucas thanks to our boundless optimism, as well as incredible stupidity, about what it would mean for us to become a family.