Do you remember, when you first fell in love, having conversations that seemed to last forever? When there was so much to learn? Under the sheets at 2am or on planes to new cities? You’d talk about your childhoods and ambitious dreams with wide-eyed wonder. Yet, somewhere along the way – after moving in together, getting married or having kids – the questions you asked switched from, ‘What’s your biggest fear?’ to ‘Can you pick up the dry-cleaning?’ Sadly, long-term couples don’t talk enough. ‘We often have meaningful conversations in the stardust of connecting to each other, but when relationships develop, these conversations get put on the back burner and grow cold over time,’ says Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of The Gottman Institute. ‘One study of married couples found that they spoke privately, on average, for just 35 minutes a week.’
According to her, this is a cause of disconnect in relationships and can be the catalyst for breakdown. This is why she and her husband, acclaimed relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, have co-authored a book, Eight Dates (Penguin), to guide couples to have more sincere conversations and improve their relationships.
When it comes to romantic advice, it’s wise to listen to the Gottmans. For decades, they’ve conducted research with thousands of couples to uncover the secrets to happy relationships; John’s ‘Love Lab’ research enabled him to predict (with 94% accuracy) within 10 minutes of meeting a couple whether their marriage will last. And their findings have worked for them: John and Julie have been happily married for more than 30 years. So what’s the secret? ‘We have learnt in our research that deep, healthy relationships involve knowing each other’s internal worlds,’ says John. ‘Knowing your partner’s interests, values, and needs, which can evolve over time.’
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