Building Bridges

If partners build habits of turning towards each other in simple everyday moments, they build bridges of affection, fondness, and admiration.

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Trust begins and ends with emotional communication.  Drs. John and Julie Gottman freely admit to this. Comparing broken trust in a relationship to a shattered mirror, he says: “You can glue it back together, but it will never be the same again.”

Still, if both partners build habits of turning towards each other in simple everyday moments, they build bridges of affection, fondness, and admiration for each other: these are the bridges of trust.

Think of the exercise below as a list of ideas. Remember that they are not set in stone. Every relationship is different. Practice affection, and trust will naturally follow.

Things to Do for Your Spouse:

  • Fix coffee, a snack, or a meal for your partner.
  • Wait on your partner when he or she is ill.
  • Compliment your partner, say thank you, praise his or her efforts around the house.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen.
  • Buy a silly gift. Buy something inexpensive. Make it an inside joke.
  • Do something kind for your partner’s friends or family.
  • Run errands for your partner.
  • Call or send an email during the workday. Ask how it’s going.
  • Draw a funny picture or write a sweet note. Hide it in your partner’s coat pocket.

Things to Do Together:

  • Hug.
  • Kiss.
  • Hold hands.
  • Cuddle.
  • Reminisce.
  • Take a class together.
  • Volunteer together.
  • Talk over drinks, coffee, or tea.
  • Wash the dishes: you wash, they dry.
  • Create artwork together.
  • Take a shower or a bath together.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Plan your future. Dream.

To learn more about bids, emotional connection, and the many other building blocks of trust, be sure to check out Dr. John Gottman’s “The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening our Marriage, Family, and Friendships.”

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Ellie Lisitsa is a former staff writer at The Gottman Institute. She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

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