­Gottman: Date 7

Written by Katie Mitchell, M.A., Certified Sex Therapist

If you are just tuning into this new blog series, I highly suggest going back to read/complete the first date topic, trust and commitment; the second date topic, conflict; the third date topic, sex; the fourth date topic, work and sex; the fifth date topic, children; and the sixth date topic, play.  As a recap, Eight Dates is a date guide about 8 different beneficial conversations that help couples to connect and gain a better understanding of one another.  If you finding this resonating with you, I highly suggest purchasing the book here and completing each of the date conversations with your significant other.  For your convenience the authors have complied the exercises from each chapter in a free PDF; you can find them here.

This week we are on to date number seven: growth and spirituality.  This chapter focuses on finding shared meaning within your relationship and discussing how each of you can accommodate for growth/change.  The Gottmans’ and Abrams’ acknowledge that, “relationships can be more than just two individuals coming together – they can be stories of transformation, contribution, and meaning in the world.”  In this chapter, the authors do another amazing job of normalizing conflict and recognizing that partners are not always going to think or see the world in the same way – nor should they.  “Conflict is the way that we grow, and we need to welcome conflict as a way of learning how to love each other better and how to understand this person with a very different mind than our own.”  The differences that exist between you and your partner are not meant to be the crux of your relationship, but ultimately what can change and transform it.  “You create meaning when you meet each inevitable struggle in life together, and move and grow through its adversity.” 

This date includes two different exercises that are meant to be completed by both you and your partner prior to the date (can be assessed at the link above).  This material is the basis for the discussion that will take place during the date.  The first exercise is a shared meaning questionnaire that explores the rituals of connection that already exist within the relationship or that would like to be added to the relationship.  Creating and abiding by the sacred time of a ritual of connection cultivates a safe space within your relationship to share and explore with one another.  “You accommodate growth and change in a relationship by making it safe for your partner to share the unfamiliar and be being truly curious about the growth they’re experiencing.”  The second exercise is a shared goals questionnaire.  Discussing your goals together, helps to give each of you a better idea of what change might look like within the relationship and helps with accommodating those changes from yourselves and partner.  As individuals transform, relationships also have the opportunity to transform.   

As a reminder, this book gives lots of amazing recommendations for those who have the ability to go somewhere for a date, but also for those who need to complete this date at home!  If going out for this date, try going somewhere that feels sacred for you both.  This might be somewhere in nature for you and your partner, or it might be at a place of worship.  If needing to do this date at home, the Gottmans’ and Abrams’ recommend still cultivating this date to be as sacred and meaningful as possible.  Set the tone of this at-home date by beginning with 5 minutes of pray, meditation, or silence.  The date summary at the end of this chapter also provides other helpful information on troubleshooting this date and other open-ended questions to consider discussing with one another.

As always, 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 growth and spirituality means for your relationship.  Many people can struggle in accommodating for growth and change within their relationship.  If this struggle fits you and your partner, reach out to our office today, and we will get you set up with a counselor who can help the two of you work towards transforming your relationship.