If you are reading Dr. Gottman’s new book on trust and catch yourself thinking this is all well and good, but totally impossible to apply in my own relationshipyou are not alone. There are reasons for which our last blog entry focused on what may feel like the strangely foreign concept of Taking Time For Yourself. This week, we want to focus on those reasons. 

If you have been reading our blog entries on Expressing Compassion and Empathy and Mindfulness in Emotional Moments between endless cups of coffee, a stressful commute to work, and delivering the kids around to their weekly activities, chances are that you may feel like you are on the verge of losing it. As you cope with what feels like your own personal brand of crazy at home, on top of which you have to somehow balance insanity in the workplace, getting enough sleep, staying healthy, participating in community life, and having the time to pursue your own interests, reading Dr. Gottman’s book on improving trust in your relationship may feel like an unrealistic excursion into theory – one impossible to implement in daily life. Luckily, Dr. Gottman understands these difficult realities and can offer you a great deal of help. 

Do yourself a favor. Do your partner a favor. Allow us to introduce you to Dr. Gottman’s methods for bringing the (hopefully no longer foreign concept!) of Taking Time For Yourself into your relationship. Though you may have some difficulties forming new patterns in your communication about these topics (especially if this has been an issue in the past), the results will pay off enormously.

To begin with, try the following simple changes. You know the drill – these are just examples. Every relationship is unique! Feel free to improvise:

  • When your partner says, “I’m going to go on a run,” try this: “Great, I’ll watch the kids! When you’re back, I’ll take my turn?”
  • When your partner says, “I’d like to go see Mike tonight, he’s been asking me to get drinks with him for a while,” say “Sure! I’ll hold down the fort, maybe do some of that laundry. Could I see Linda tomorrow?”
  • When your partner asks, “Could we go to that BBQ for Tess’s birthday tomorrow?” take the time and go – the two of you deserve a break. If you’d like, you can add, “That sounds wonderful. Could we work on the taxes sometime this weekend, though?”

This kind of communication is invaluable in any relationship. If you establish this kind of positive rapport (closely linked to Turning Toward Bids), you and your mate will gradually begin to make enormous leaps and bounds towards the establishment of trust. Your friendship will increase as you begin to bond as a team, and your stress will cease to become such an obstacle to romance!

Look forward to our blog on Wednesday, a quiz employed by Dr. Gottman to measure the amount of stress you’ve experienced lately. As you follow his advice and use his research-based tips to lessen your stress level, we hope that you will see your results improve enormously. Try today’s suggestions out this week, and look forward to more on managing stress in our coming posts on The Gottman Relationship Blog!


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Building Trust In Stressful Times

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.