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Celebrate Your Relationship Every Day, Not Just on Valentine’s Day

by DR. JOHN GOTTMAN

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to do something special with your partner. With that said, successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts. A lifetime of love is created every single day you are together.

At The Gottman Institute, we encourage couples to go on a weekly date. It doesn’t have to be big, doesn’t have to be expensive, but each week, set aside dedicated time for you and your partner to have quality conversations.

You connect and fall in love by talking. But what conversations should you have with your partner to know if your love will last—through challenges, surprises, joy, and pain?

And if you’ve been in a relationship for years, what conversations should you have to reinvigorate the connection and passion that first brought you together, but may have become routine?

For forty years, we’ve studied what separates the masters of relationship from the disasters. Based on this research, we compiled eight conversation-based dates in our newest book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

We guide you through how to talk—and how to listen—in a way that will be beneficial for you as an individual and as a couple. Every chapter includes fun and insightful anecdotes, along with exercises and questionnaires meant to help both partners prepare.

Trust and Commitment

Trust is cherishing each other and showing your partner that you can be counted on. Choosing commitment means accepting your partner exactly as he or she is, despite their flaws.

Conflict

Conflict happens in every relationship, and it’s a myth to believe that in a happy relationship you’ll get along all the time. Relationship conflict serves a purpose. It’s an opportunity to get to know your partner better and to develop deeper intimacy as you talk about and work through your differences.

Sex and Intimacy

Romantic, intimate rituals of connection keep a relationship happy and passionate. Couples who talk about sex have more sex, but talking about sex is difficult for the majority of couples—it gets easier and more comfortable the more you do it. 

Work and Money

Money issues aren’t about money. They’re about what money means to each partner in a relationship. Discovering what money means to both of you will go a long way in resolving the conflicts you may have around money.

Family

How ever you define family now or in the future is up to you and your partner. What’s most important is that you talk about what family means and what you both want your family to look like and be like.

Fun and Adventure

Play and adventure are vital components to a successful and joyful relationship. It’s okay if you and your partner have different ideas about what constitutes play and adventure. The key is for you to respect each other’s sense of adventure and what it means to that partner.

Growth and Spirituality

The only constant in a relationship is change. The key is how each person in the relationship accommodates the growth of the other partner. Relationships can be more than just two individuals coming together—they can be stories of transformation and great contribution and meaning to the world.

Dreams

Honoring each other’s dreams is the secret ingredient to creating love for a lifetime. When dreams are honored, everything else in the relationship gets easier.

Every strong relationship is a result of a never-ending conversation between partners. So by all means, enjoy a special date on Valentine’s Day, but don’t make it the only date you have this year. Keep the conversation going, and make sure you’re connecting over things that are meaningful. Eight Dates is a reminder that it’s never too soon, or too late, to start a conversation.

DR. JOHN GOTTMAN

Dr. John Gottman is the co-founder of the Gottman Institute with his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. World-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, he has conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. His work on marriage and parenting has earned him numerous major awards. He was listed as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker. He is the author or co-author of over 200 published academic articles and more than 40 books. Click here to purchase “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.”