Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Tim was a handsome eligible chap, on the trail hunting for an everlasting, heart-pounding romance – a person who chooses him to be everything for them. After months of tiring efforts and time to find ‘The one', he started to realize he can never be able to find the perfect fit. He understood that it is no fairytale and it is all a fallacy in reality.
Instead, every time he encountered an eligible bride, he asked himself, “I am willing to play some of the major roles in life for her, and is she capable and willing to return the favor?” Within a couple of days, Tim found his better half and called for a wedding a week later.
He learned that we don’t need partners to be our everything all the time - What is necessary is for our partners to be able to step up and shine when we stumble and fail to be our own heroes. Years later, Tim had a happy family with 2 kids. And the couple had grown stronger and happier together. On looking back, he thanks Dr. Gottman’s writings that were his savior for the time.
John Gottman, after 40yrs of research, studying thousands of couples, sought to uncover what keeps happy couples happy and what prevents unhappy couples from being happier. In the findings, he found that happy couples on average devote an extra 6 hours a week to their relationship. How the 6 hours were divided, often depended on the focus of what the couples wanted to improve. Additionally, some common tips were discovered for couples.
The 6 Hours
The secret to a successful and positive relationship is sparing a few minutes a day for them. That’s it! Definitely not some dramatic overhaul, but rather small efforts throughout the week that takes few minutes at a time, accumulating to 6 hours in total. These magic efforts are:
The goal here is to ask questions and learn about the exciting and not-so-exciting things about the partner’s day. This could be a work meeting, grabbing a coffee with a friend, or even a dental appointment. Time allocation: 10 minutes per week (2 minutes a day x 5 working days)
When you see your partner again at the end of the day, share a hug and kiss that last at least six seconds. Gottman calls this “a kiss with potential”. This six-second kiss is a ritual of connection that is worth coming home to. After the kiss, have a stress-reducing conversation for at least 20mins which helps provide space for empathy and non-sexual intimacy. This also helps understand the stresses and problems outside of the relationship. Time allocation: 1 hour and 40 minutes per week (20 minutes a day x 5 working days)
Appreciation and Admiration:
Finding ways to genuinely communicate affection and appreciation towards partners is essential. It is best to use an admiration journal to record even the teeny tiny things you noticed and connect to a trait you admire in your partner. Time allocation: 35 minutes per week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)
Imagine lacing your goodnight kiss with forgiveness and tenderness for your partner. Expressing physical affection when you’re together is vital to feeling connected to each other. Make sure to embrace each other before falling asleep. This can be as simple as cuddling for a few minutes or a goodnight kiss. Time allocation: 35 minutes per week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)
This enables ‘Us time’ for the couples and also paves way for romance in the love story. It is important to ask open-ended questions and focus on turning towards each other.
The Gottmans often encourage the couples they are working with to think of their relationship as a cradle. In the cradle is where your child rests. So, keeping that cradle strong and peaceful is the best thing couples can do for their children. Total allocation: 2 hours once a week
State of Union meeting:
The Gottmans’ research has shown that having one hour a week set aside for discussing areas of concern changes the way couples manage conflict. This enables couples the freedom to express their fears and concerns in the relationship, also making them feel heard and loved. Total allocation: 1 hour once a week
The secret formula
A healthy relationship is one that adds to both people's overall well-being, fueled by communication, respect, and boundaries. Although the above steps have proven to positively affect a couple’s relationship, good relationships don’t happen overnight. Every relationship requires growth together, and also individual growth. Make strides in the required direction, though, by starting with one or more that you feel can be most easily and comfortably incorporated into your schedule, and go from there.
Learn what works best for you as a couple in order to achieve this. It might take trial and error. Devoting six extra hours per week to “magically” transform your relationship is an investment that is sure to pay dividends.