Q&A: Giving something extra meaningful for my wife’s birthday


My wife and I have had a rough year relationally. Things are improving, though, and I want to give her something extra meaningful for her birthday. I’m stumped – any ideas? 

Answer: We’re going to suggest something that may sound a little crazy. Write out a heartfelt card and include a “coupon” for ten minutes of your time every day for the whole year (and then follow through).

Sound too easy? Dr. John Gottman, a widely respected marriage therapist, has published research that shows couples can dramatically improve their relationship if they’ll devote at least ten minutes throughout the day to one another.

What happens in those ten minutes is where the magic happens. It’s where couples “turn toward” one another. That means both husband and wife shift their focus away from work, children, and other distractions of the day and turn their attention toward their spouse. It could be a conversation over dinner. Additionally, look for connection moments throughout the day. It could be as simple as complimenting your wife on her appearance or giving each other a kiss goodbye as you’re both heading out the door. Even in brief exchanges like these, you’re choosing to turn toward each other.

Believe it or not, it’s not lavish vacations or extravagant gifts that best help relationships to thrive, but small, everyday acts. Happy couples take time to talk to one another, to laugh from time to time, and to pay close attention to what the other is doing or saying. Those seemingly insignificant actions are actually powerful moments that keep couples emotionally engaged and stoke the fire of romance and passion in a relationship.

No matter how busy you may be, never be too busy to “turn toward” your spouse on a daily basis. Ten minutes – that’s all you need to help move your marriage from “surviving” to “thriving.”

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