Expressing appreciation with the Gottman Card Decks app

This week, your mission if you choose to accept it is to use the Gottman Card Decks app to express appreciation for one another.  

Instructions: "Build fondness and admiration by using these simple phrases as examples of things to thank your partner for. Or just scroll through and show your partner the screen if it's hard for you to express yourself out loud!" 

Our family's rituals of connection

Hellos and goodbyes are part of our family's rituals of connection.  They say "You are important to me." Each family has their own unique rituals that are important to them.  If we are unsure of what rituals we want for our family, we can make some up!  Here's a great resource to help us to do that: the rituals of connection card deck in the Gottman Card Decks app.  

Instructions (from the app): "Select a card and discuss whether you would like to incorporate the ritual in your relationship, and if so, exactly how it should go, who should do what and when, and how it should end. Be sure to talk about if and why this is important to you, and how this ritual was handled (or mishandled) in your family or in previous relationships."

I think about you when we are apart

How can we let our families know that we think about them when we are apart?  This week let's do something for our partner and children that tell them that they are worth thinking about when we are not together.  It might be:

  • a little, inexpensive gift (their favorite gum or candy, a flower that was pretty, or anything that they would enjoy)
  • a text message that just says "I'm thinking of you" and "I'm looking forward to seeing you soon"

Purposeful hellos

What does a great "hello" look like to your family members?  A warm hug?  A kiss?  Words of affirmation?  What says to them "You are special to me. I missed you. You matter."? Do they need a few minutes to unwind or do they need to connect right away?  

Great goodbyes

The challenge this month is to share greetings and goodbyes that show our family members how important they are to us.  Our goal this week is to say goodbye with an "I love you. Have a great day! I will be thinking about you, and I am looking forward to being together again."  A few great goodbye resources:

  • The song "My Mama Comes Back" by Lou Gallo
  • The (kids) book "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn, and the song "A Kiss In My Pocket" by David Kisor
  • The (parenting) book "I Love You Rituals" by Dr. Becky Bailey
  • Transition rituals

Greetings from Seattle

I am so thankful to be here and part of this amazing training. I’m a Bringing Baby Home Training Specialist in training!! I taught my sections and it was great! Thanks and congratulations to this new group of Bringing Baby Home educators! 

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Greetings & Goodbyes: the 6 second kiss

The challenge this month is to share rituals of connection within our families.  

We start by sharing greetings and goodbyes that show our family members how important they are to us.  So this week, when you say hello or goodbye to your partner, make the kiss a good one!  Aim for a 6 second kiss!  Check out this video for inspiration.  Although I don't know this lady, her video is inspiring!  

Open Ended Questions: What if...

Our goal this month is to improve our skills at asking open ended questions, so that we can get to know one another over time.  This week we are getting to know the things that our partner hopes and imagines (the "what if's".  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • If you could live one other person’s life, whose life would you choose and why?  
  • If you could live during any other time period in history, when would you choose to live and why?  
  • What do you imagine your life would be like if you lived 100 years from now?
  • If you could design the perfect house for us, what would it look like?
  • If you could choose any other career or vocation other than what you do now, what would you choose and why?  
  • If you could wake up tomorrow with three new skills in which you excelled, what would they be and why?  
  • If you could change into any animal for 24 hours, what would it be and why?  
  • If you could live in any other country but your home country, which would you pick and why?  
  • If you could experience being any other person for 24 hours, who would you pick and why?  

Check out the Gottman Card Decks app for more.

Or improve your skills at Bringing Baby Home on October 13-14.

Open Ended Questions: The Future

Our goal this month is to improve our skills at asking open ended questions, so that we can get to know one another over time.  This week we are getting to know each other's hopes for the future.  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What do you want your life to be like in, say, three years from now?
  • How do you see your work changing in the future?
  • How do you feel about our physical home? Any architectural changes you’d like to make?
  • What kind of person do you think our child(rent) will become? Any fears? Any hopes?
  • What are your biggest worries about the future?
  • What goals do you have for our family?
  • What goals do you have just for yourself right now?
  • Where would you like to travel? 
  • What adventures would you like to have before you die?

Check out the Gottman Card Decks app for more.

Or improve your skills at a Bringing Baby Home class, including a new class posted for October 13-14, 2018.  

Open Ended Questions: The Present

Our goal this month is to improve our skills at asking open ended questions, so that we can get to know one another over time.  This week we are getting to know each other's daily experience in the present.  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Is our child like anyone in your family? Who?
  • How do you think we could have more fun in our life?
  • Who are your best allies and close friends right now? How have they or you changed?
  • How have your friendships changed lately? Have you grown closer to some friends? More distant from others?
  • Who in your life is most stressful for you? Why?
  • What do you need right now in a friend?
  • What things are missing in your life?
  • Have your goals in life changed recently?
  • What are some of your life dreams now?
  • What would you change about our finances right now?
  • What kind of year has this been for you? Tell me the story of your proudest moment.
  • How do you feel about your family right now? Have these feelings changed lately?
  • How do you feel about work right now?
  • How are you feeling about being a mother/father?
  • What do you find exciting in life right now?
  • What is one way you would like to change?  

Check out the Gottman Card Decks app for more.

Or improve your skills at a Bringing Baby Home class.  (Now available: October 13-14, 2018 class in San Jose, CA)

Open Ended Questions: The past

Our goal this month is to improve our skills at asking open ended questions, so that we can get to know one another over time.  This week we are getting to know each other's past.  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How would you compare yourself as a mother/father to your own mother/father?
  • How have you changed in the last year?
  • What legacy do you want our family to take from your family? From your culture? 
  • What are some unfulfilled things in your life?
  • How has your outlook in life changed in the past 2 years?
  • What were the highlights and low-lights of your adolescence?
  • If you could re-do any decade of your life, which decade would you choose and why?  
  • How have you changed as a daughter or son?  
  • How have you changed as a brother or sister?  
  • What relatives have you felt closest to and why?  
  • Who has been the most difficult person in your life (other than a partner or spouse) and why?  
  • Who was your childhood hero or heroine and why?  

Check out the Gottman Card Decks app for more.

Or improve your skills at a Bringing Baby Home class.  

Are we partners? Or enemies?

When we need something, it is easy to look at our partner as the enemy instead of as a teammate.  How can we work together as one team fighting against the issues that come up this week?  How can we give our partner the benefit of the doubt?  How can we look for ways to find compromise when our needs are in conflict?  How can we use conflict as an opportunity to better understand who we are and what we need?  Are there ways that we can take responsibility for our part of the problem?  In the Bringing Baby Home curriculum, John Gottman says that these questions can  reduce our partner's potential defensiveness because we are kicking the problem around together.  We are working together as a team instead of against one another. 

Gentle start-up: a key to expressing needs respectfully

According to the Gottmans' research, the way a conversation starts is likely the way that it will end.  So if we start with criticism or contempt, we are likely to end with defensiveness or stonewalling.  But if we start gently, we are more likely to have a productive conversation.  Some keys to a gentle start-up include:  expressing appreciation; making statements that start with "I", such as "I'm upset" or "I'm angry"; describing the facts of the situation; and clearly describing what we need.  Check out this video from Julie Gottman to hear more.  

Appreciation: a key to being heard

According to Dr. Gottman’s research, the masters of relationship had 20 times more positive interactions than negative interactions during everyday interactions, and five times more positive than negative interactions during times of conflict.  Our ratio of positive to negative interactions is strong when our relationships are full of fondness, affection, gratitude and humor.  When we create rituals that build gratitude and affection for one another, we are putting our relationship in what Dr. Gottman calls “the positive perspective”. When our relationships are in the positive perspective, we are more able to hear our partner’s needs. 

When expressing our needs, it can be helpful to include what we appreciate and what we admire about the other person. When we express that, we can help our partner be able to hear us.  

When we are deeply entrenched in the negative perspective, or when our needs have been building up, it can be hard to stop and express appreciation. In his book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs describes this pattern as “the crazy cycle.” He says that when a man feels disrespected, he responds without love. When a woman feels unloved, she responds without respect.  He says that the one who considers him/herself more mature should be the one who takes the first step towards expressing love and respect. 

 

Expressing needs: calm down first

 

I wanted to start our expressing needs challenge with a quick reminder that it’s really hard to think clearly or have empathy for our families when we are physically upset (Dr. Gottman calls it “flooded”). If we notice that our heart rates are high and our bodies are tense,  we may need to start off by taking a good break. What is the nature of a good break? It is at least 20 minutes long. It is thinking about something else besides the argument. By the time the break is over, our bodies are physically relaxed, and our hearts and minds are calm.