In Wednesday’s posting on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we shared Lisa Brookes Kift’s excellent suggestions for reinvigorating your relationship in her article, “Get Out The Broom…8 Ways To Spring Clean Your Marriage.” In today’s Weekend Homework Assignment, we continue our discussion of spring cleaning your marriage by offering our own practical advice that you can try with your partner this weekend! As these have been drawn from Dr. Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and The Relationship Cure, we should note that there are many, many more activities like these available to you. Check out his many books on our website to gain access to a wealth of relationship knowledge.

Below you will find Dr. Gottman’s research-based suggestions for ways to build on Lisa’s 8-step model. We have also provided methods (with helpful links!) to avoid experiencing such a deep clean altogether. As long as you regularly give it a gentle polish, your relationship will shine on its own! Take some time this weekend to try these activities with your partner:

Take a walk down memory lane. 
Conduct your very own Oral History Interview!

Get back to checking in.
Check in with each other on a daily basis, and make time regularly for longer conversations about potential stressors in each other’s lives. Listen to your partner and be supportive. Here is an exercise that the two of you can try, which will help you to talk about the stress that is being caused within your relationship.

Look under the carpet for hidden resentments.
Though you may feel exasperated with each other at times (don’t worry, we all do), make sure that you don’t amplify the problem by attacking each other from the get-go. By approaching conflicts gently, you significantly increase the likelihood of resolving them healthily and productively. We call this a Soft Startup.

Check your assumptions. 
Don’t get tripped up in those frustrating mixed messages, don’t jump to conclusions – see“Fuzzy Bidding” – and watch out for messages you may not even know you’re sending to your partner!

Create happy memories.
Every moment of emotional connection in your relationship can an opportunity to create a happy memory. From the little interactions we share daily with our loved ones (morning coffee, grocery shopping, driving to school, eating dinner) to important celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays) we can make each other smile.

Remember one of the most vital determinants of health in a relationship, Turning Towards, and make sure to catch those Sliding Door moments. Create shared meaning in celebrating life in your own way!

If you broke it, fix it. 
Remember to Repair and De-escalate! And when you are Moving Forward, ask yourself the following questions: How did I get into this muddle in the first place? Why didn’t our conversation go well? What is the meaning of the issue between my partner and I? What are the sources of our gridlock on this subject?

More gratitude, please. 
Share fondness and admiration, and your Emotional Bank Account will grow, strengthening your connection!

Take it up a notch if needed.
Show your partner affection and appreciation. If you show your love, trust and intimacy will naturally follow!


More in The Archives
Weekend Homework Assignment: Spring Cleaning Part II
Ellie Lisitsa

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.