Homework Assignment: Spring Cleaning

Spring clean your marriage and refresh the love with these tips based on years of research from The Gottman Institute.


Spring clean your marriage and refresh the love with these tips based on years of research from The Gottman Institute.

Spring clean your marriage and refresh the love with these tips based on years of research from The Gottman Institute.


In this post on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we shared Lisa Brookes Kift’s excellent suggestions for reinvigorating your relationship in her article, “Get Out The Broom…8 Ways To Spring Clean Your Marriage.” In this blog, we continue our discussion of spring cleaning your marriage by offering practical advice drawn from Dr. John Gottman’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” and “The Relationship Cure” that you can try with your partner.

Below you will find Dr. John Gottman’s research-based suggestions for ways to build on Lisa’s 8-step model. Take some time to try these activities with your partner: 

Take a walk down memory lane

Conduct your very own Oral History Interview. Talk about your individual pasts as well as your time together since you first met. What moments stick out to you? When was a formative time that changed your outlook on life? Ask questions of each other to learn more.

Get back to checking in

Check in with each other on a daily basis and make time regularly for longer conversations about potential stressors in each other’s lives. Listen to your partner and be supportive. Here is an exercise that the two of you can try, which will help you to talk about the stress that is being caused within your relationship.

Look for hidden resentments

Though you may feel exasperated with each other at times, make sure that you don’t amplify the problem by attacking each other from the get-go. By approaching conflicts gently, you significantly increase the likelihood of resolving them healthily and productively. This is a Soft Startup

Check your assumptions

Don’t get tripped up in those frustrating mixed messages. Don’t jump to conclusions. Watch out for messages you may not even know you’re sending to your partner.

Create happy memories

Every moment of emotional connection in your relationship can be an opportunity to create a happy memory. From the little interactions shared daily with loved ones (morning coffee or eating dinner) to important celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, and religious holidays), make each other smile.

Turning toward each other’s bids is one of the most vital determinants of health in a relationship. Make sure to catch those Sliding Door moments that can make all the difference in your interaction. By doing this, you can create shared meaning in celebrating life in your own way. 

If you broke it, fix it

Remember to Repair and De-escalate! And when you are Moving Forward, ask yourself the following questions: How did I get here in the first place? Why didn’t our conversation go well? What is the meaning of the issue between my partner and me? What are the sources of our gridlock on this subject?

More gratitude, please

The longer you’re with someone, the more likely you are to take politeness for granted. It’s easy to overlook the impact that these gestures of common courtesy can make in your relationship, even if you’re already quite comfortable with each other. So share fondness and admiration. Your Emotional Bank Account will grow, strengthening your connection!

Ellie Lisitsa is a former staff writer at The Gottman Institute and editor for The Gottman Relationship Blog.