Instead of our usual Weekend Homework Assignment, today we would like to conclude The Sound Relationship House Series by sharing suggestions for Creating Shared Meaning from Dr. Gottman’s celebrated book, The Relationship Cure. These ideas are ones that you can use in all your relationships, whether it be with your partner, children, siblings, extended relatives, and even friends! Try out a few of them over the next couple weeks, and see how your relationships grow closer and start to feel more connected:

Things to do for (and with) your friends and family:

  • Ask “How are you?” in a way that shows that you really want to know
  • Listen to stories and jokes, even when you’ve heard them before
  • Return things you borrow
  • Say thank you for favors, trade big favors (painting houses, building decks, etc)
  • Offer spur-of-the-moment invitations to go out for coffee, dinner, a movie
  • Accept spontaneous invitations (if you can!)
  • Ask for advice, give advice, don’t feel obligated
  • Know when what you are asking for is too much
  • Remember birthdays, give personalized gifts, don’t feel that you must overspend
  • Offer compliments
  • Accept apologies
  • Let them off the hook when they say “I can’t do it, I’m exhausted”
  • Let them be upset if they need to be
  • Ask for help
  • Let them help you
  • When they are stressed, try to help them (within your power)
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Talk on the phone
  • Host parties for mutual friends
  • Exercise together
  • Volunteer together
  • Celebrate each other’s successes
  • Show affection
  • Cry together
  • Laugh together
  • Share hugs

All of these activities are really ways of Turning Towards those who are near and dear to you. The 7 levels of The Sound Relationship House are all connected:

  1. Building Love Maps
  2. Sharing Fondness and Admiration
  3. Turning Towards
  4. Keeping A Positive Perspective
  5. Managing Conflict
  6. Making Life Dreams Come True
  7. Creating Shared Meaning

You can’t maintain a successful, healthy relationship without keeping these levels of the house stable – instability on one level can make the whole house fall down. But don’t panic! This will add to the instability! Relax. As you learn to apply Dr. Gottman’s research-based skills to your own relationships, the ways in which you interact with your loved ones will naturally become healthier and build stronger bonds – bonds that will last a lifetime.

We leave you with this video clip from Dr. Gottman, in which he unveils the truth about great relationships:

More in The Sound Relationship House
Create Shared Meaning: Suggestions from Dr. Gottman

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.