Just feeling ‘love’ is not enough for a strong, healthy marriage. Feelings change and are largely influenced by circumstances and external influences.
You have been practicing with tools and strategies for building your friendship and strengthening your relationship. Using open-ended questions gives you a window into your spouse’s background and personality. Whether through these questions or observation and conversation, be sure to learn something new about your mate every day. (Lesson 1) Affirming and appreciating your spouse also should be part of your every day conversations. (Lesson 2)
Turning towards instead of away from your spouse is probably the single best indicator of a healthy marriage. Recognizing their cues for closeness and responding often every day adds to your relationship account. Keeping it in the positive column gives your relationship the flexibility to endure the few times you turn away. (Lesson 3)
Being able to express your needs and desires and knowing that they will be respected also helps to build your friendship. We must feel safe to express our emotions, our needs, and our desires. (Lesson 4)
All of these practices go into creating a Love Map of your spouse. A Love Map is the map we create in our own head of our partner’s inner world – their dreams, hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, and everything else we can gather.
Use the Love Maps cards from your Gottman Cards app for about 10 minutes.
Please read the article, “The Positive Point of View.” If your marriage is to endure the stresses of parenthood, you must have a positive point of view. After reading this article, take some time to do the exercise, “The Rituals of Connection.”
We need to practice habits to strengthen our connection to each other. Gottman calls these ‘rituals of connection.’ Kyle Benson has written an article that describes the daily de-stressing conversation. Read: The One Daily Talk that Will Benefit Your Marriage
Watch the video Let’s Play with Baby You may click on the words to watch on your computer or press play to see right here. (Used with written permission from Gottman Institute.)
Now it is time for some practice with your baby or child. Read the article, “Playing Together.” Be sure to include play time as one of your Rituals of Connection. Playing together with your baby may really take more practice than any of these other exercises. Finding a way to coordinate the play so everyone is equally involved and enjoying the play may not come automatically for you. Take heart, with practice, this will become one of your favorite points of connection in the whole day.
Read: “Dads of Toddlers and Beyond.”
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