If you have ever wondered if it were possible keep your relationship in prime condition all year round and what you would have to do to make that happen, Dr. John and Julie Gottman have the answers. They recommend continuing to work on your relationship every day and throughout each week with what they call the “Five magic Hours”. The Gottman’s research has shown that taking 5 hours each week focusing on your marriage and incorporating specific principles will result in a strong and satisfying relationship.
Dr. John Gottman details the process in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
The Magic Five Hours incorporates the following principles:
- Partings – 2 Minutes/day
Spend two minutes every day practicing a warm and intentional farewell when preparing to separate from your spouse. Gottman suggests learning at least one thing that will be part of your spouses day. This may be an appointment, activity, stressor or project. This will help you bridge the separation and look forward to your reunion. Two minutes/day – 10 minutes/weekday
- Greetings/Reconnection– 20 Minutes per day
Take some time to reconnect at the end of the day, spending about 20 minutes reviewing the day and asking about the activity you discussed in the morning, sharing your ups and downs, listening and offering support to each other. Take about 10 minutes each. 20 Minutes/weekday – 1 hour 40 minutes/week
- Physical Affection – 5 Minutes per day
Physical touch, holding hands, caressing, touch, sitting close and kissing helps couples to remain close. Gottman suggests having a 6 second kiss everyday. 5 Minutes/day – 35 minutes/week
- Admiration and Appreciation – 5 Minutes per day
Each day find a way to express your admiration for your partner as well as your appreciation. These words of affirmation will deepen your love and sustain your relationship. Express your gratitude for something that they have done or offer a genuine complement. Gottman suggests that a 5:1 ratio positive to negative interactions is key as it takes 5 positives to counteract each negative interaction. 5 minutes/day – 35 minutes/week
- Weekly 2 Hour Date – 2 Hours
Enjoying some time together each week is a great way to stay connected and enjoy each others company. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate experience, It can just be an opportunity to talk, get to know each other better, and make plans for your future. 2 Hours
Taking 5 hours a week to invest in your marriage will strengthen all aspects of your relationship, increase satisfaction and protect your relationship in the long-term.
Adding a sixth hour
Adding an extra hour to assess and discuss specific marital issues had shown to transform how couples manage conflict in Gottman’s research
State of the Union Meeting: 1 hour per week
During this one-hour meeting, review the past week. Discuss what went right and what went wrong and express appreciation to each other. Start by discussing the positives and share 5 things you appreciate about each other and discuss any concerns or issues that have come up through the week. Gottman state: “End by each of you asking and answering, ‘What can I do to make you feel loved this coming week?’
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman-Nan Silver – Seven Dials an imprint of Orion Publishing Group Ltd. – 2018