Tips of the Month for Couples are regular tips for building strong relationships and healthy families. If you would like to sign up to receive these monthly tips, scroll to the bottom of the page and leave your email address.
Can we ever truly desire what we already have?1 That's the conundrum at the heart of long-term relationships: how to sustain erotic desire when, over time, the mystery and novelty that stimulates sexual interest inevitably wanes. It's a question that has baffled academics, sex therapists, and ordinary folk trying to keep the spark alive.
You know your partner’s age, phone number, maybe social security number. But do you know her triggers?
There were times in our young lives when we asked for things — and sometimes we were turned down. “You’re not old enough.” “You’ve had plenty already.” “I’m too tired to get it for you.” “Don’t be greedy.” It was disappointing, perhaps hurtful, when our requests were denied. Enough of those moments and some of us grew reluctant to ask.
"Attention is a resource: a person has only so much of it… What if we saw attention in the same way that we saw air or water, as a valuable resource?"1 And what if we better aimed this resource toward the person we say is most important in our lives? What if we made it a practice to prioritize our partner as the most important recipient of our attention? Attention is the most basic expression of love.
Couples researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., was asked in an interview what the number one issue is that couples fight about. His answer? Nothing. Couples, he said, fight about nothing. Listen to the 1-minute interview above and hear it for yourself.
You probably never thought about lowering your voice during an argument. You probably never heard about the power of reducing your volume when tempers flare and emotions spill over. Here's what you need to know:
In our primary relationship, we all want to be understood. We want our partners to "get" us. Whether we're upset or joyful or sad, whether we're disappointed, excited, or discouraged, we want our partner to accept and understand what it is we're feeling. But it turns out that more important than empathic accuracy — when our partner has an accurate read on our emotions — is empathic effort — the fact that our partner wants to understand us and is making that desire…
Every marriage has an invisible emotional bank account. We make deposits into the account through acts of kindness, words of admiration, gestures of support, and more. We make withdrawals from the account by moments of unkindness, harsh or unfair criticism, words or actions that trigger hurt feelings, and more.