Gottman 8 Dates: Date One
Written by Katie Michell, M.A., CST
If you follow our social media pages, you may have noticed the influx of Gottman quotes that have been used in the past few weeks. These quotes have been pulled from their latest book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. Eight Dates is a date guide about 8 different beneficial conversations that help connect and unify couples. Over the next couple of months, I will be doing an overview of each date conversation. If this information resonates with you, I highly suggest purchasing the book in order to garner more information here. For those reading that decide to get the book yourself, I am including helpful page numbers to look back at! Also, the worksheets have been pulled from this book for your convenience at home; you can find them for free here.
Date number one’s topic of discussion is trust and commitment. On this date, you and your partner will carve out sacred time to discuss what trust and commitment look like in your relationship. Safety is another huge aspect of this conversation; spend some time discussing how do you each help one another feel safe. The two of you can also discuss the boundaries and agreements that you have each made regarding trust and commitment. During your date, take time to ask each other open-ended questions about the topics above. Be curious about your partner’s responses and what they are conveying to you. When creating this guide, the Gottmans’ and Abrams’ really tried to consider every bit of information that couples might need to have this discussion successfully - If you and your partner feel like you could use some extra help coming with discussion point, found on page 65 are open-ended questions for trust and commitment to aid this date conversation.
As a couple’s counselor, trust and commitment resonates with just about all of my couples. Most couples will report that they are committed and trust one another, but after digging a bit deeper, evidence often arise that supports the contrary. John Gottman brings a poignant example forward with a couple who reportedly trusts and is committed to one another, yet they also report that the grass could be greener in a different relationship (page 45-48). This chapter will help you both to hone in on how you each cherish (commit to) one another on a daily basis, providing a “how much do you actually cherish your partner” quiz (which is also the first 7 pages of the download above). I highly recommend that each of you take the quiz and share your thoughts with one another during this date. Remember it is key to be open to your partner’s perspective; this is not a time for blaming, but for sharing your own perspective and being open to hearing and understanding your partner’s perspective.
As a counselor who works with all types of couples, I also love that the Gottmans’ give recommendations for those who have the ability to go somewhere for a date, but also for those who need to do this date at home. This chapter also include recommendations for having this conversation, but it also includes a guideline of moving forward together when trust has been broken in the relationship (page 52). Also, If you and your partner struggle to communicate in an open manner, the first few chapters of Eight Dates also include helpful information on putting your feelings into words; asking open-ended questions; making exploratory statements; and expressing tolerance, empathy, and understanding. I highly recommend reading through this material as a refresher for even those who consider themselves the best communicators!
I hope reading this motivates you and your partner to carve out a date night to discuss what trust and commitment look like within your relationship! If this is something that the two of you struggle to do, reach out to our office today and we will get you set up with a counselor who can help you have this conversation together.