The final step is developing together, developing a world together, and making each other’s dreams come true.
If your partner dreams of owning a Model T Ford, say ‘Yes’ when they want to buy one. If your partner has always wanted to learn Chinese, say ‘yes’ when they want to go to night school with you.
It’s good to have a couples language that’s just for you. “Remember that time when…”(we went on holidays to Canberra, we snorkelled with sharks, we walked 2km in 40 degree Celcius heat) is a wonderful tool to stroke your partners good feelings.
My husband had always wanted a moon watch, and that was my wedding present to him. His first anniversary present to me was a painting that I really loved. We do what we can to make each others dreams come true.
This means having good boundaries, accepting that your partner will be right sometimes, and that they get to have a say in what happens as a couple, but not letting them walk all over you.
It means talking and talking and talking.
It also means respecting when your partner gets overwhelmed and letting them stop. Letting them self soothe, and soothing them where possible.
It means watching your partner for signs that they’re getting upset and coming back to it later.
My husband and I are having a big discussion right now about food. I read obsessively about diet, and even though I weigh around 190kg, I put into practice anything I can. For example I take supplements that are associated with a decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, I make sure I have a long gap between meals and snacks so my insulin doesn’t stay constantly high and I have a decreased risk of insulin resistance, I increase my protein, vegetable and legume intake and decrease my white carb intake.
Anything I’m capable of, I do.
Yet, my husband and I Both enable each other to eat potatoes, biscuits, chocolate and desserts.
So my husband’s driving license has recently been threatened, and we’re having to do some serious thinking.
It’s tough coming up against ourselves like that.
Last night we were talking and my husband asked for a time out.
We stopped for a minute, and I stroked his hand.
After a while I said something, and he held out his left hand in a stop gesture.
It doesn’t mean that we won’t talk about it, and keep on talking about it, it just means that when he or I get overwhelmed, we pause for a moment and calm down for a while. We can each rely on the other not to cause harm by flooding.
After you’ve spent a long time getting to know your partner and learning their personal traits and histories, the next step is to love all over your partner and snuggle into their yumminess.
This means compliment your partner, tell them what they’re doing right, listen to them telling you 100 times the same joke and still smile wryly.
Tell them you love them and you love the way they pick up groceries on the way home, or wash up all the plastic recycling on the weekend, or shake the water off their butt when they get out of the shower.
As John Flanagan a Gottman trainer says, the next step is to be your partner’s cheer leader.
Something my husband and I do is tell each other how much we love each other several times per day. I tell him he’s a good husband and I love him, and I say thank you to him for doing every good thing he does that I remember. Yesterday he tidied his cupboards, and he took the recycling box downstairs. I said thank you. Because he’s a good little kitten and I love him. Naaaaaw.
He tells me he loves me he likes my cooking and he’s proud of me for getting good marks at uni and he’s proud of me when I get a new client, and he thinks I’m a good wife. I love him and he loves me.
I also have an example of this from a friend, one of my friends and I start on the level of functional and we work to make each other more functional. I can talk to her about things I’m working on to improve, and she can talk to me too.
John and Julie Gottman’s model basically boils down to being nice to your partner while still having boundaries.
It starts with getting to know your partner really well. That means finding out their hopes and dreams; their experiences and memories; their values, ethics, politics, and spiritual views.
It starts with all the talking you do when you’re in new relationship energy, but it adds an additional responsibility to keep learning from each other.
They ask you to keep on talking and sharing your day, your experiences.
It starts with the admonition to be your partner’s best friend.
One piece of practical advice I got from Trish Purnell, a Gottman Trainer is that when your husband first comes in, the first moments he walks through the door, I just set aside 20 minutes (maybe over dinner or a drink) and let him vent about his day. He’ll vomit his news up all over me, and he’ll feel better, I don’t have to say anything or problem solve, I just let him vent for 20 minutes or so.
Another thing that I’ve done is to ask my husband to participate in my hobbies. So I did things like buying him a colouring in book so we could colour together, he does jigsaw puzzles so we do that together sometimes, we both love to read so we sometimes read the same books so we can talk about them to each other. It makes a big difference to understand your partner