If your marriage is going through a tough time right now, do you want to know that one daily talk that will benefit your marriage greatly?
When Steven gets home from work, his wife Katie asks him, “How was your day, dear?” Their conversation goes like this.
Steven: At my weekly meeting my manager challenged my knowledge of our products and told the CEO that I am incompetent. She’s such a jerk.
Katie: There you go again. Overacting and blaming your manager. When I met her she seemed very logical and reasonable. You’re probably being insensitive to her worries about your department. (siding with the enemy)
Steven: The woman has it out for me.
Katie: And there’s your paranoia. You really need to get a handle on that. (criticism)
Steven: Forget I ever said anything.
Do you think Steven feels loved by his wife at this moment?
Instead of providing a safe haven for him to be heard, she adds to his stress.
Learning to cope with external pressures and tensions outside your relationship is crucial to a marriage’s long-term health, according to research by Neil Jacobson.
A simple, effective way for couples to earn deposits in their emotional bank account is to reunite at the end of the day and talk about how it went. We call this the “How was your day, dear?” conversation, or more formally, the Stress-Reducing Conversation.
Like Steven and Katie, many couples have the “How was your day, dear?” conversation but the talk does not help either partner relax. Instead, it escalates the stress and tension between them because they end up not feeling heard.
If this sounds like you and your partner, changing your approach to these end-of-the-day talks can ensure that they help both of you unwind.
The 4 Agreements of Love
Before you start your end-of-the-day discussion, I’d recommend making some agreements. Agreements are what I use with my clients to bring their unspoken expectations into view.
Agreement #1: Agree on Timing
Some individuals want to connect the moment they walk into the door. Others need to decompress on their own before they’re ready to interact. When this expectation goes unspoken it can create tension and leave both partners feeling missed by each other.
Agree on a time that will meet both of your needs. This can be at 7 pm every night or it can be 10 minutes after both of you get home.
Want to know more about how to build a happier marriage? Read 30 Pieces Of Marriage Advice From People Married For Over 30 Years
Agreement #2: Dedicate Your Presence for 20-30 Minutes
Some couples struggle because they don’t spend enough time in the presence of each other to allow love to be cultivated. Take time to truly connect during this conversation.
Agreement #3: Don’t Discuss Your Marriage
This talk gives you and your partner the space to discuss about whatever is on your mind outside your marriage. It is not the time to bring up conflicts between you. Instead, it’s a chance to truly support each other in other areas of your life.
This conversation is a form of active listening in which you respond to each other’s venting with empathy and without judgement. Since the issues have nothing to do with the marriage, it’s much easier to express support and understanding of your partner’s worries and stresses.
Agreement #4: All Emotions are Welcome
This conversation is an opportunity to unload about irritants or issues, both big and small. If your partner shares sadness, fear, or anger and it feels uncomfortable, it may be time to explore why. Often this discomfort is rooted in childhood restrictions against expressing negative emotions. If this is the case, check out “Coping with Your Partner’s Sadness, Fear, and Anger” on page 103 in The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work.
Allow this space to be a place of celebration too. If you have a victory at work or as a parent, mention that. Beyond sharing frustrations, a relationship is about sharing and relishing in the victories of life together. That’s what makes it meaningful.