Book: Eight Dates

51-AzoOdE5L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_“Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Live” by John Gottman, PhD, Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD
Couples with happy marriages:

  • “Either verbally or nonverbally, the couple expresses positive affect (warmth, humor, affection); they emphasize the good times; they compliment their partner.”
  • “The couple emphasizes their ability to communicate well with each other and their mutual unity and togetherness. They use words like ‘we,’ ‘us,’ or ‘our’ as opposed to a lot of ‘I,’ ‘me,’ ‘mine.’ They don’t describe themselves as separate.”
  • “The couple describes memories about their shared past vividly and distinctly, versus vaguely or more generally with an inability to recall details. They are positive and energetic talking about their relationship, versus lacking energy and enthusiasm in recalling their past. They express intimate information about themselves, rather than staying impersonal and guarded.”
  • “In ‘glorifying the struggle,’ the couple expresses pride that they have survived difficult times, versus expressing the hopelessness of their hard times. They emphasize their commitment to the relationship versus questioning whether they should really be with this partner. They are proud of their relationship versus being ashamed of it. They talk about their shared values, goals, and life philosophy. They have intentionally created a sense of shared meaning and purpose, even in the way they move through time together. And they create intentional traditions in their relationship for connecting emotionally. We call these “rituals of connection.” Dates are an example of rituals of connection.”
  • “Happy relationships aren’t relationships where there is no fighting. They are relationships where repairs are made after regrettable incidents happen—and where a couple connects with each other day to day. Happy couples are not so very different from unhappy couples; they are simply able to make repairs to their relationship easier and faster so they can get back to the joy of being together.”
  • “For the purposes of this book, a date is a preplanned time where the two of you leave your work life and your work-in-the-home life, and spend a set amount of time focusing on each other, and really talking and listening to each other.”
  • “But a date night is more than an obligation—it’s a commitment to your relationship and to your hopes for a happy marriage. It helps to carve out a specific and regular time each week and make this “appointment” a priority. “
  • “Dates don’t have to be expensive; in fact, they don’t have to cost anything at all. Pack a picnic, go for a walk, sit in a park. There are endless ways to spend time together without breaking the bank.”
  • “You can also download the exercises and open-ended questions from the website, workman.com/eightdates.”
  • “Skill #1 PUT INTO WORDS WHAT YOU ARE FEELING”
  • “Now talk about WHY you have these feelings. This might include a description of the events that led to the feeling, a story from your childhood, an observation, or an insight or revelation that you’ve had. Anything that draws a connection between the feeling and what you think caused the feeling.”
    Sample open questions: “What are you feeling?
    What else are you feeling?
    What are your needs?
    What do you really wish for?
    How did this all happen?
    What would you really like to say, and to whom?
    What are the feelings you are afraid to even think about?
    What mixed feelings do you have?
    Are there parts of yourself that are in conflict?
    What does this remind you of in your personal history?
    What are your obligations (or duties) here?
    What choice do you need to make?
    What do your values tell you about all this?
    Think of someone you really admire. What would he or she do and how would he or she view this situation?
    Do these feelings and needs have any spiritual, moral, ethical, or religious meaning for you?
    Who or what do you disapprove of?
    How does this affect your identity, your idea of yourself?
    How have you changed or how are you changing now, and how has that affected this situation?
    What’s your major reaction or complaint?
    How do you wish things would be resolved now or in the future?
    Pretend that you had only six more months to live. What would be most important to you then?
    What are your goals?
    What should you take responsibility for in this situation?”
  • “Try saying any of these exploring statements:
    Tell me the story about this situation.
    I want to know everything you’re feeling.
    Talk to me, I am listening.
    Nothing is more important to me right now than listening to you.
    We have lots of time to talk. Take all the time you need.
    Tell me your major priorities here.
    Tell me what you need right now.
    Tell me what you think your choices are.
    It’s okay not to know what to do, but what’s your guess?
    You’re being very clear. Go on.
    Help me understand your feelings a little better here. Say more.
    I think that you have already thought of some solutions. Tell me what they are.
    Help me understand this situation from your point of view. What are the most important points for you?
    Tell me what you’re most concerned about.
    Tell me more about how you are seeing this situation.
    Talk about the decision you feel you have to make.”
  • “Try making empathic statements like these:
    You’re making total sense.
    I understand how you feel.
    You must feel so hopeless.
    I feel the despair in you when you talk about this.
    You’re in a tough spot.
    I can feel the pain you feel.
    I’m on your side.
    Oh, wow, that sounds terrible.
    That must feel hurtful for you.
    I support your position.
    I totally agree with you.
    You’re feeling so trapped!
    It sounds like you felt really disgusted!
    You’re in a lot of pain here. I can feel it.
    That must have upset you.
    That is very scary.
    I would have also been disappointed by that.
    That would have hurt my feelings also.
    That would make me sad, too.
    Wow! That must have hurt.
    That must have been really frustrating.
    No wonder you felt angry.
    Okay, I think I get it. So what you’re feeling is . . .
    Tell me if I have this right. What you’re saying is . . .
    That would make me feel insecure.
    That sounds frightening.”
    “It’s your job as a listener to tune in to your partner’s feelings. Make sure you don’t minimize your partner’s feelings by dismissing them or trying to fix them. You don’t have to make your partner feel better or cheer him or her up. Your only goal is simply to listen and to try to understand.”
  • “A powerful way to witness and to ‘be there’ for your partner is to repeat back in your own words what you have heard your partner saying, and thus communicate validation.”
    “Don’t be critical and don’t give advice unless your partner asks for it. In every conversation with our partner we want to communicate respect, understanding, and empathy. The conversations we’re advocating for require a certain amount of vulnerability and openness, in which each partner feels safe and free to share their innermost thoughts, feelings, and fears with the other. Remember the goal in these conversations isn’t to prove that you’re right in your beliefs or that your partner is wrong. The goal is to understand the similarities and differences that you have and to create empathy for why you each see the world the way that you do.”
    “That step is making negative comparisons of our partner with other real or imagined alternative relationship partners. We call these ‘Negative Comps.’ Rather than nurturing gratitude for what we have with our partner, we nurture resentment for what’s missing.”
  • “You have the trappings of commitment and loyalty, but you go to a party and think someone else can meet your needs better. You don’t like each other’s behavior and think that means they’re not the one for you. When you negotiate with each other, it’s always from a point of self-interest, not mutual benefit. You haven’t built trust, or commitment, or a foundation of loyalty to each other because you’re not really in this relationship.”
  • “If things aren’t going well in their relationship, they voice their concerns to their partner instead of complaining about their partner to someone else.”
  • “Vulnerability creates trust, and trust is the oxygen your relationship needs to breathe. Trust is also built over time, and over lots of conversations—like the ones Ben and Leah had, and the ones you’ll have in this book. Trust is the backdrop to any relationship. It’s an action word—both a verb and a noun. Trust happens in the little moments when we show our partner we are there for them and they do the same for us. Trust is built in small moments of attuning to our partner, and listening like a friend and ally when our partner is experiencing a negative emotion—sadness, anger, disgust, or fear, even if those emotions are about us. In all of our decisions we’re thinking of maximizing our partner’s benefits as well as our own. Mutual trust rests in the belief that both of us are thinking for two. We aren’t negotiating for the best deal for just ourselves. We’re always considering the cost of any choice for our partner, too.”
  • When trust has been broken: “1  Set a specific time and place to talk.
    2  Each partner names the feelings he or she experienced during the incident or breach in trust, without blame or criticism.
    3  The receiving partner listens without feedback or judgment.
    4  Each person describes his or her point of view about what happened during the incident without blaming or criticizing their partner, while their partner only listens and tries to empathize. The listener shouldn’t bring up their own point of view until it’s their turn to speak.
    5  Explain and examine any feelings that were triggered by the incident but that were originally felt long before this relationship. For example, one of you is a no-show for a dinner date, and that triggers a feeling of abandonment the other had from childhood or the rejection or infidelity in a past relationship.
    6  Each partner assesses how they contributed to the incident and holds himself or herself accountable.
    7  Each apologizes and accepts the other’s apology.
    8  You make a plan together to prevent this from happening again.”
  • “Our research has shown that most relational conflict is not resolvable. Each relationship comes with a set of problems because each person is unique and different from others, and some set of problems is going to be there no matter who the other partner might be. Time and time again we hear of couples divorcing because of their problems, and then remarrying only to find they have similar or new problems in the new relationship.”
  • “Many of our problems travel with us, reincarnating in each relationship, until eventually we learn to recognize them for what they are and manage them appropriately.”
  • “And the great gift is that within these conflicts, within these perpetual problems that you can’t ever seem to resolve, lie the greatest opportunities for growth and intimacy. When you discover what lies beneath those problems, you uncover something that is at the core of your partner’s belief system or personality.”
    Solvable problems: “These are situational problems. You argue about housework, who picks up the kids on Fridays, or where to go on vacation. The conflict is about the topic, and there is no deeper meaning behind the position.”
    perpetual problems: “These are problems that center on fundamental differences you have in your personalities or lifestyle preferences. These are the problems that you return to over and over again. These could be differences in basic needs, punctuality, organization, amount of time spent alone or together, differences in how to celebrate Christmas, or how to relate to in-laws.”
  • “Recognizing a perpetual problem for what it is leads to accepting and valuing how each of you is different. At the core of managing conflict, especially when it comes to a perpetual problem, is accepting your partner for who they are. When you accept what you can’t change, you accept each other. Accept your partner for who they are, and they’ll do the same. Celebrate and learn from your differences.”
  • “You’ll know your perpetual problem has become gridlocked when you have the same conversation and arguments over and over again with no progress.”
  • “When your partner expresses anger, instead of acting defensive and attacking back, try asking yourself, or even asking your partner, what does he or she need, what is the unmet desire or hope that hasn’t yet been met. Through any argument, if you can communicate that you love and accept your partner, even if you deeply disagree with them, your relationship and marriage can not only survive but also thrive.”
  • “Each person takes a turn to talk about what they were feeling during the fight: Were you feeling sad, angry, worried, lonely, ashamed, unappreciated, defensive, or any other emotions and feelings? Perhaps you were feeling out of control or confused.”
  • “Each person should talk about how they saw the situation and their perspective about what actually happened in the argument.”
  • “Validate each other’s realities. Validating doesn’t mean agreeing. It means being able to complete a sentence like, ‘From your point of view it makes sense to me that you would have these feelings and needs. I get it.'”
  • “If you feel triggered, tell your partner the story of what happened in your past, so your partner can understand your own particular sensitivities and why this is a trigger for you. If you are the partner, express understanding and empathy as your partner describes the incident and the connection.”
  • “Accept responsibility and own up to your part in the fight. Perhaps you’ve been overly stressed or preoccupied, or you haven’t made time for your partner, or you haven’t been a good listener. What can you own up to in how you contributed to the argument?”
  • “Discuss how you both might do things differently the next time. What’s one way your partner can make it better if this type of incident happens again? What’s one way you can make it better? Create a plan together to minimize hurt feelings and avoid an incident in the future.”
  • “Differences in neatness and organization.”
  • “Differences in punctuality.”
  • “Differences in doing tasks and getting things done. One person may be a multitasker, doing lots of things at the same time, and the other likes to focus on one thing at a time.”
  • “Differences in emotionality. One person is very emotionally expressive and the other is not so expressive.”
  • “Differences in wanting time together versus time apart and alone. “
  • “Differences in optimal sexual frequency. “
  • “Differences in talking about your sex life. One partner wants to talk about your sex life and be able to make it better over time, while the other person prefers to have this area of your life kept spontaneous and unexamined.”
  • “Differences in finances.”
  • “Differences in adventure.”
  • “Differences with respect to relatives. One person wants more independence from relatives, and the other wants more closeness and connection.”
  • “Differences in how to approach household chores and childcare. “
  • “Differences in how to discuss disagreements. One person wants to be able to fight openly and be as emotionally expressive as possible, while the other may require a more logical, calm, and rational approach to conflict, without much emotionality.”
  • “Differences in expressing anger. One person is comfortable expressing or receiving anger, wants the freedom to express anger, and tends to get over anger easily. The other person sees anger as potentially destructive and disrespectful and wants anger to be mostly eliminated from your interactions, and may be more likely to take anger personally, or even hold grudges.”
  • “Differences in how to raise and discipline children.”
  • “Differences in how to deal with sadness.”
  • “Differences in preferred activity level.”
  • “Differences in socializing. “
  • “Differences in influence/power.”
  • “Differences in ambition and the importance of work.”
  • “Differences with respect to religion and spirituality. “
  • “Differences with respect to drugs and alcohol.”
  • “Differences in independence. “
  • “Differences in excitement.”
  • “Differences in fidelity.”
  • “Differences in having fun.”
  • “Great sex is not rocket science. It’s very doable, but you have to be able to talk about it and you have to make it a priority in your relationship.”
  • “Research shows that couples who can talk openly about sex have more sex, and the women in these relationships have more orgasms. Talking about sex is a win-win for couples.”
  • “The important thing when you’re talking about sex with your partner is to focus on what you like and what feels good.”
  • ” One couple we know like to do what they call ‘sex review’ after the fact. This usually happens the next morning over coffee, or even while they’re out running errands. ‘We talk about what we liked. What we want to try the next time we make love. New moves and things that were surprising. Anything, really. Sex review is a way to keep things sexy even when we’re not doing sexy things.'”
  • “A great way to respond to no is realizing that ‘no’ does not have to end connection. Then one can say, ‘Thanks for telling me you’re not in the mood. What are you in the mood for? Do you feel like taking a walk? Watching TV? Cuddling? Just talking? Or would you like time alone?’ It’s important not to punish one’s partner for saying no.”
  • “As we mentioned above, the largest study of love on the planet, with 70,000 people in 24 countries, found that in all great relationships, kissing passionately for no reason at all was one universal key to a great sex life.”
  • “The Love Lab found that successful relationships have a 20 to 1 ratio of positive to negative in all their everyday interactions in the apartment lab. This means for every one time you roll your eyes at something your partner says or does, you need to counteract this with 20 positive responses and reactions. When they want your attention, you give it to them. You ask how each other’s day went while making eye contact, you talk about the things that are stressing them out, you listen to them, and you empathize with their struggles. Every time you’re together there is an opportunity to learn more about each other and become closer. When you are apart, send love texts, or flirt with each other over the phone or by email. Let your partner know you are thinking about them and loving them. These little acts and stolen moments of connection—the kind that happen outside the bedroom—are exactly what will keep the passion in your relationship alive far more than any wild tricks you might try out behind closed doors.”
  • “1 Think about all the times we’ve had sex. What are some of your favorites? What about that time made it your favorite?
    2 What turns you on?
    3 How can I enhance our passion?
    4 What’s your favorite way for me to let you know I want to have sex?
    5 Where and how do you like to be touched?
    6 What’s your favorite time to make love and why? What’s your favorite position?
    7 Is there something sexually you’ve always wanted to try, but have never asked? How often would you like to have sex?
    8 What can I do to make our sex life better?”
  • “For most couples, the arguments around money tend to fall into three distinct categories: different perceptions of financial inequality, different perceptions of what it means to have financial well-being, and different perceptions about the nature of how they argue about money. Of all the three, the nature of the arguments was the best predictor of whether a couple would break up. What this means is that conflicts over finances don’t need to be a “make or break” issue. What matters most is how a couple talks about their financial disagreements.”
  • “Couples need to avoid the dichotomy of characterizing one another in terms of the two most common stereotypes: the Spender and the Saver.”
  • “Long hours at work can pull people apart, leave little time for connection, and create loneliness in the relationship.”
  • “In fact, research shows that if you’re happy in your marriage you’re more likely to be happier in your job. The reverse is also true, job satisfaction can predict marital satisfaction, but researchers found this link to be weaker.”
  • ” In 1965, men spent an average of 6.5 hours a week on unpaid work such as housework and child care. In 2011, men spent an average of 17 hours a week on unpaid work. In contrast, women used to spend an average of 32 hours a week on housework alone, and that number (thanks to the men sharing the load) had fallen to 18 hours a week in 2011.”
  • “Every couple should come to an agreement about priorities, but each couple will be unique. You and your partner should talk about your own priorities and what you value.”
  • “For the partner working long hours:
    What does your work mean to you?
    What pleasure or satisfaction does work bring to you?
    What need does working fulfill in your life?
    How would you spend your day if money was no object and you didn’t have to work?
    For the partner who is frustrated by the long hours:
    What does your partner’s absence mean to you?
    What do you miss about your partner when he or she is gone so much?
    What are you longing for in terms of emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual connection with your partner?”
  • “Women don’t typically save money, and more than 58 percent of women born between 1946 and 1964 (baby boomers) have saved less than $10,000 in retirement accounts. It’s estimated that between one-third and two-thirds of women now aged 25 to 55 will be impoverished when they are 70 years old.”
  • ” What did your maternal and paternal grandparents do for a living?
    How well off were your grandparents?
    What did your parents do for a living?
    How well off were your parents?
    What were your parents’ attitudes about money? How did you view these parental ideas as a child?
    Did your parents feel comfortable spending money? How did you view these attitudes about money as a child?
    Did your parents save money or invest? How did you view these attitudes about money as a child?
    Did your family take family vacations or travel together when you were growing up? How did you view these vacations as a child? Was money discussed?
    Did your family entertain? How did you view this as a child?
    Did your family engage in philanthropy or charitable activities?
    As a child did you have an allowance? How did you view this as a child?
    What is your own work history?
    What does money mean to you personally and why?
    Did your parents celebrate your birthdays? Did you feel special?
    Did you have a birthday cake? Did that fact matter to you as a child?
    How did your parents show you that they were proud of you? Or didn’t they?
    Did you get presents at holidays? Did that fact matter to you as a child?
    What did your parents teach you about money? How do you feel about those teachings now?
    What did your family’s history teach you about money? What’s your attitude now?
    What were your family’s values about money? What did you agree with and what did you disagree with?
    What is your most painful money memory? Tell the story of that memory to your partner.
    What is your happiest or best money memory? Tell the story of that memory to your partner.”
  • “For me, having enough money means having power.”
  • “For me, having enough money means being independent.”
  • “For me, having enough money means being strong.”
  • “For me, enough money means not having to rely on anyone else.”
  • “For me, enough money means being responsible.”
  • “For me, enough money means being able to relax and not worry.”
  • “For me, enough money means being able to have time to do what I like.”
  • “For me, enough money means being able to have luxury.”
  • “For me, enough money means being able to create.”
  • “For me, enough money means being able to give some of it to other people.”
  • “For me, having enough money means love, caring, and affection.”
  • “For me, having enough money means safety, security, and stability.”
  • “For me, having enough money means feeling competent.”
  • “For me, having enough money means having control.”
  • “For me, having enough money allows me to feel positive self-esteem.”
  • “For me, having enough money means being acceptable to myself and others.”
  • “For me, having enough money means a reward for a lot of effort.”
  • “For me, having enough money means being a successful adult.”
  • “For me, having enough money means avoiding stress.”
  • “For me, having enough money means deserved self-indulgence.”
  • “For me, having enough money means feeling respected.”
  • “For me, having enough money means taking responsibility as an adult.”
  • “For me, having enough money has meant greater sexual opportunity.”
  • “For me, having enough money means great freedom.”
  • “For me, having enough money means I can have companionship.”
  • “For me, having enough money means feeling rich and comfortable.”
  • “For me, having enough money means filling a void in my life.”
  • “For me, having enough money means I can be happy.”
  • “Discussing whether you want children is important, as is discussing how many children you each imagine in your ideal family scenario.”
  • “Statistics show that for a child born in the United States in 2015, it costs an average of $233,610 to raise that child through age 17. This is if you’re a middle-income family, averaging approximately $60,000 to $100,000 a year in income. If together you make over $105,000, then your average cost to raise a child to age 17 is an astonishing $407,820.”
  • “We’re husband and wife but we’re also best friends. It’s funny because a lot of people, when they have kids, they put the baby first and the marriage second. That works for some people. For us, I find, we put our marriage first and our child second, because the best thing we can do for him is have a strong marriage.”
  • “Marital satisfaction began plummeting after the wedding and then took a big downward dive when the first child arrived—taking bigger nosedives with every subsequent child. If the couple didn’t divorce while at the bottom, then marital satisfaction began increasing when the youngest child left home. This wasn’t just true for the early part of the twentieth century. This is the norm.”
  • “What John found out in his longitudinal study of heterosexual couples was that the men who were more respectful to their wives, and more accepting of their wife’s influence or opinions, were more likely not to have a drop in marital satisfaction after children are born.”
  • “Both partners should work to stay involved during the pregnancy and birth of children. Both should be involved as equally as possible with the new baby, whether they are same sex or heterosexual couples. In heterosexual couples, studies show that dad’s involvement matters greatly, and the secret to keeping dad involved with the baby is a good relationship with mom. If there is low conflict and continued sex, then dad will stay involved with the baby, and the couple is more likely to maintain marital happiness.”
  • “The second most important thing is for the two of you to maintain intimacy and connection. You need to make your relationship a priority. If you don’t, you will fall to the bottom of the curve and not get out for 18 years, if you don’t divorce first. To maintain intimacy you need to talk to each other about your stresses, make time to connect (date nights!), and avoid defensiveness, criticism, contempt, and shutting down or withdrawing from each other.”
  • “1 What does your ideal family look like? Just us? Us and friends and relatives? If you want children, how many children would you like to have?
    2 What are the ways in which your parents did or did not appear to maintain their closeness, love, and romance after having children?”
  • “FOR COUPLES PLANNING ON HAVING CHILDREN:
    1 What problems do you think we might have maintaining our intimacy in our future family?
    2 What do you think you will love about being parents together?
    3 What characteristics or qualities of mine would you like our child to have?”
  • “FOR COUPLES NOT PLANNING ON HAVING CHILDREN OR WHOSE CHILDREN ARE GROWN:
    1 How are we going to create a sense of family?
    2 Who do you consider our closest family (this can be friends or relatives)? What do you want to do to deepen our relationship with our family or closest friends?”
  • “Play isn’t just about being with each other, it’s about connecting with each other. When we play together as couples, we’re developing our trust and intimacy.”
  • “For a couple, play and adventure is all about learning together, growing together, exploring together, and supporting the natural curiosity you both have.”
  • “The need for adventure is universal, but the ways in which we seek that newness will be different. Not better, not worse. Not right, not wrong. Just different. For some couples an adventure is taking a cooking class when you’ve never cooked before in your life. Or taking an art class when you’ve only ever drawn stick figures. Adventure doesn’t have to happen on far-off mountaintops or at the risk of life and limb. At its core, it’s simply seeking what is new and different. It is anything that pushes you outside of your comfort zone, giving you that dopamine-induced thrill.”
  • ” When was the last time you felt excited or curious while you were with your partner?
    When was the last time you did something new together?
    When was the last time you had the feeling that something wonderful was about to happen?”
  • ” Take a hike or long walk together
    Take a drive this weekend to somewhere we’ve both wanted to explore
    Plan a picnic
    Play a board game or card game together
    Choose and learn a new video game together
    Shop for cars, antiques, new clothes—whatever passion you share
    Plan a meal together and invite friends over
    Cook a dish from a new cuisine together
    Choose a new restaurant to explore or cuisine to try
    Play catch
    Learn a new language together (or at least a few phrases)
    Speak in foreign accents while doing just about anything
    Go bicycling or rent a bicycle for two
    Go roller-skating or ice-skating
    Rent Segways
    Row a boat or canoe or kayak together
    Go to a bookstore and explore books in a section we don’t usually read
    Go visit wildlife: bird-watching, whale watching, the local zoo, or the aquarium
    Learn a new sport together
    Go see a live performance: play, improv, musical, stand-up comedy, circus, dance—whatever sounds fun
    Take a performance class together, like improv, acting, singing, or stand-up comedy
    Read a joke book together. Read a book of poems together. Or alternate reading one joke and one poem.
    Go dancing
    Go fishing
    Go to a concert or any live music
    Create a playlist of the music from when we met and dance or listen to it together
    Work out together
    Get tickets to our favorite sports event and cheer together
    Go to a spa and enjoy being together in the hot tub or sauna
    Play music together
    Sing loudly together to music we both know
    Go to an art gallery or museum
    Pretend we are spies while out at the mall or in town
    Go wine tasting or beer tasting or chocolate tasting
    Climb a hill, mountain, or friendly tree
    Tell stories about the most embarrassing or entertaining episodes of our lives
    Go to a climbing gym
    Go to a trampoline gym
    Go to a theme park or amusement park
    Play in the water together: swimming, water skiing, riding waves, paddleboarding, sailing
    Make a date to meet somewhere and pretend we don’t know each other and are meeting for the first time. Flirt, and try to seduce each other
    Color, draw, or paint together
    Make something together, such as crafts, pottery, model airplanes, clothing, costumes, woodwork
    Throw an impromptu party and invite everyone who’s available at the moment
    Do yoga together or take a couples’ yoga class
    Learn couples’ massage
    Go for a walk in a new neighborhood
    Write a love letter to each other with our nondominant hand
    Ride the local bus system around our town rather than drive
    Stay up all night
    Turn off all electronic devices for the entire day
    Take an art class
    Take a cooking class
    Take a dance class
    Ask a couple you don’t know very well to go on a double date
    Strike up a conversation together with strangers sitting near you in a restaurant, on a park bench, or on the subway
    Play in the mud
    Scuba dive or go cage diving with sharks
    Go bungee jumping
    Go hiking, camping, or backpacking
    Travel to an exotic country
    Do anything you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid to try”
  • ” What does adventure/play mean to you?
    How did you like to play when you were a child?
    What’s the most fun you’ve had playing in the last few years?
    How do you think we could have more fun?
    Share with me an adventure story from the past.
    What’s the most recent adventurous thing you did?
    What are you most excited about or looking forward to right now?
    What’s a one-day adventure you could imagine us having together?
    What adventures do you want to have before you die?”
  • “There is no doubt that spiritual change, or change of any kind, can be a source of conflict in relationships. But in relationships, 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. When we get to that understanding, we have both individual growth and relationship growth.”
  • “The goal isn’t to try to make the other person be like you. The goal is to learn from them and to benefit from the ways you’re different.”
  • “According to Pew Research, shared religious belief is less important than shared interests, good sex, and division of household labor. The more shared meaning you can find or create in your relationship, the deeper, richer, and more rewarding your relationship will be.”
  • ” When we eat dinner together, how can we make our dinnertime special for us? What is the meaning of dinnertime? What was dinnertime like in each of our families growing up?
    How should we part at the beginning of each day? What was this like in our families growing up? What should our reunions be like?
    What should getting ready for bed be like for us? What was it like in our families growing up?
    What do weekends mean for each of us? What were they like in our families growing up? How can we make them more meaningful?
    What were vacations like in our families growing up? How do we want our vacations to feel?
    Pick a special holiday. What is the true meaning of this holiday to us? How should it be celebrated this year? How was it celebrated in each of our families growing up?
    How do we each get refreshed and renewed? What makes these rituals meaningful for us?
    What rituals do we have when someone is sick? What was it like in our families growing up? What would we like it to be in our family?”
  • ” In your childhood, how did your family honor the sacred, or did they not, and how did that make you feel? Were they religious, and if so, how did they practice?
    What do you consider sacred? And why?
    What carries you through your most difficult times?
    How do you find a sense of peace in yourself? What is your source of peace?
    How have you changed in your spirituality or religious beliefs over the course of your life?
    How do you feel you have grown the most? In what areas?
    What decade did you grow the most in and how did you change?
    What spiritual beliefs do you want to pass on to our kids (if you have them or plan on having them)?
    How can I support you in your own personal journey?
    How do you feel about intentionally trying to evolve within yourself or doing things to develop in terms of your personal growth?”
  • “How do you see your work changing in the future?
    What do you find exciting about life right now?
    What are your biggest worries about the future?
    How do you think we could have more fun in our life?
    What things are you missing in your life?”
  • ” In short, they took turns, and they sacrificed, and they supported each other to fulfill their own personal dreams and the collective dreams they felt drawn to contribute to.”
    “Everyone makes sacrifices, but you can’t surrender your dreams. You can’t suppress them. That can lead to bitterness, resentment, and loss of passion and desire, and create enormous distance in a relationship. As partners we must help each other find a way to channel and pursue our dreams, whether vocationally or recreationally. This keeps passion and juice and aliveness in each partner and in the relationship.
    And nobody wants a partner who is only half alive. The goal is to be in a relationship and still hold on to your dreams. Pursue your dreams. And share your dreams with your partner.”
  • “Circle three dreams below that are most important to you.
    To have more freedom
    To experience peace
    To experience unity with nature
    To explore who I am
    To go on great adventures
    To undertake a spiritual journey
    To fight for justice
    To create honor
    To heal my past
    To be a healer of others
    To create a family
    To fulfill my potential
    To be powerful and influential
    To age gracefully
    To explore my creative side
    To help others
    To develop mastery
    To explore an old part of myself I have lost
    To conquer a fear
    To have a sense of order
    To be more productive
    To be able to truly relax
    To reflect on my life
    To finish something important
    To explore the physical side of myself or become an athlete
    To compete and win
    To travel the world
    To make amends or ask God or another person for forgiveness
    To build something important
    To end a chapter in my life—say goodbye to something”
  • ” Did you have any dreams for yourself when you were a child?
    Do you think your parents fulfilled their dreams?
    Did your parents support you in fulfilling your childhood dreams?
    Why is the dream in your innermost circle so important to you?
    Does it relate to your childhood or history in some way? How so?
    Is there an underlying purpose for your fulfilling your dream?
    How would you feel if this dream was fulfilled? If it wasn’t?
    Tell me more about your other two dreams.”
  • ” What do you want your life to be like, say, three years from now?
    How do you see your work changing in the future?
    How do you feel about our physical home? Are there any architectural changes you’d like to make?
    What do you think your life would be like if you lived 100 years from now?
    How would you compare yourself as a mother or father to your own mother or father?
    What kind of person do you think our child(ren) will become? Any fears? Any hopes?
    How do you feel about work now?
    Which decade of your life would you like to redo,
    and why?
    How are you feeling now about being a mother or father?
    If you could go back into your life and change one thing, what would it be, and why?
    What do you find exciting in life right now?
    If you could wake up tomorrow with three new skills, what would they be, and why?
    What are your biggest worries about the future?
    Who are your best allies and close friends right now? How have they or you changed?
    What were the highlights and lowlights of your adolescence?
    If you could live during any other period in history, when would you choose to live, and why?
    If you could choose any other career or vocation, what would it be, and why?
    If you could change one characteristic about yourself, what would it be, and why?
    How have you changed in the last year?
    If you could live one other person’s life, whose life would you choose, and why?
    What are some of your life dreams now?
    What goals do you have for our family?
    If you could look like anyone else in the world, who would you pick, and why?
    What kind of year has this been for you? Highlights? Lowlights?
    Tell me the story of your proudest moment.
    If you could be a superstar in any sport, what sport would you choose, and why?
    How have you changed over the years as a mother or father?
    How have you changed over the years as a daughter
    or son?
    How have you changed over the years as a sister or brother?
    What relative of yours have you felt closest to, and why?
    Who has been the most difficult person in your life?
    If you could be the richest man or woman in the world, what would you do with your money?
    If you could change into any animal for 24 hours, which animal would it be, and why?
    Who was your childhood hero, or heroes?
    If you could live the rest of your life in any other country, which one would it be, and why?
    If you could be a genius in any art form, music, dance, whatever, which talent would you choose, and why?”

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