The stress reducing conversation!
How did you go with the breathing techniques? I had a few situations involving traffic jams and conflicting demands where I needed to slow down and just breathe. It is good to find the techniques I share with my readers still work!
Maybe you are asking is that all she can offer? Surely there is something more to help, some other skill? It can be horrible at this time of year when your To-Do list is more like a Russian novel where complications with work, relatives and social engagements multiply. It might start to feel like you are running on empty and your emotional bank account is totally withdrawn.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your partner could just read your mind and try to understand? Do they even care?
John and Julie Gottman have suggestions about how to make deposits into each other’s emotional bank accounts. They suggest a daily Stress Reducing Conversation with your partner. I have clear memories of my own parents doing this after work over a cup of coffee as they chatted about their day. It got them re-connected and ready to get on with the evening activities with four kids. They maintained this ritual as long as I can remember throughout their 50 years of happy marriage!
This Stress Reducing Conversation is the chance to moan and complain about your day and to have your partner listen sympathetically. One is the Listener for 10 minutes and one the Speaker. Then you swap roles.
There are some rules.
- It is not the time to complain about your partner.
- It is not a time to problem solve or side with the enemy. Instead, it is helpful to listen and express support on how that might have made them feel. Ask questions to see if you have understood. Then you can swap roles.
- Of course, it is normal to want to jump in with advice or solutions but Hold Back! Your suggestions could make the other feel stupid. Wait until they feel understood and then ask if they would like anything else from you. If they don’t want more help then just swap roles. It can be such a relief just to feel heard and validated as you offload the stress.
Making time for this simple conversation sends a very strong message that you care. You are taking the time to learn about someone’s day. Your partner is important to you. That knowledge refills the emotional bank account and builds connection. That might even set the mood for more positive connections later in the evening!