Making Life Dreams Come True

Past Sound Relationship House posts:

Build Love Maps

Share Fondness and Admiration

Turn Towards

The Positive Perspective

Manage Conflict

Manage Conflict: Accepting Influence

Manage Conflict: Repair and De-escalation

Okay, I’ve said it before: I am not crazy about what John Gottman decided to name some of the levels of the Sound Relationship House. This level is especially irksome. Making Life Dreams Come True.

It’s just too cute. It reminds me of Disney movies and sets the precedent that at some point, your partner is going to have to figure out how to make you a wizard and send you to Hogwarts because for some of us (and I’m not naming names me), our life dream is to get an owl post. Jesse, are you going to make this happen?


Now, Accio me a Hedwig!

Okay, so maybe you can make some ridiculous life dreams come true in certain ways. My point though, is that this is about something besides nerd fantasies (there’s more to life than nerd fantasies? You don’t say!) and it’s really about knowing your partner.

For example, Jesse had a job interview a while ago. In this job interview, they asked him what he would do with a large sum of money. As he was telling his story about his interview and outlining what he’d spend his money on, I interrupted him his sentence and said, “You’d open a  recording studio…”

I said it kind of like, “Duh” because I knew he was going to get to that as the finale on his story (sorry I ruined your epic ending, Jesse <3) but I wanted him to know I knew. It’s never been outwardly spoken in our relationship, but if there’s ever the time and extra money laying around when we’re older, Jesse is getting that recording studio. It will make him infinitely happy and I know that would be his ultimate “My life dream came true” moment. Besides being with me in 50 years. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?

(Ignore the creeper…)

So, it’s really just about knowing what your partner’s ultimate dreams are for the future and working as a team to make that happen. I know that I jump around with my goals for the future, but with every new goal, Jesse is hip with it and knows it’ll be a part of my future. Right now, I’m seriously considering having a private practice. Jesse has been supportive of that idea and we even talk about being a small business owner every once in a while. He works my future into his future. It’s totally rad.

So how do we get to knowing about our partner’s love of light sabers and recording studios?

We ask questions. We act curious. We want to know.

We avoid being those couples we see out at restaurants that sit silently and look around for things to talk about. If we have to, we bring questions to dinner ready to ask our partner. We have to talk about what the other person wants to do in the future. We can’t just expect it to happen. We have to plan our future with our partner.

Crane Love

A story for you:

My mother is a fabulous woman. She can pretty much cook anything, including a mean steak which she takes great pride in and is quite dismayed that I no longer indulge in one of her greatest labors of love. 

She’s also quite crafty. Besides the requisite puffy paint sweaters and Precious Angels coloring book dabbling, she’s also skilled with water colored pencils, papier mache, a sewing machine, and is a whiz with a hot glue gun. She once made a whole chess set for me that looked like a topiary garden.

She also makes a wicked Manhattan, which I have luckily continued to delight in or I think she would disown me.

One of my favorite things about my mother is her encyclopedic knowledge of animals that mate for life. Ever since I was young, I can remember instances where my mother would lay her knowledge of the animal kingdom on my little ears. The first animals she ever told me about were Sandhill Cranes.

Ever since then, she’s told me about ospreys and raccoons, along with all the other fabulous and monogamous pairs in the animal kingdom. As an adult, I get a little tinge of sweetness in my heart when I see Sandhill Cranes because they remind me of my mother who I don’t see as often as I used to, and because monogamy is something mysterious and baffling to me. I don’t hear of Sandhill Cranes going to divorce court very often. Do you?

Maybe I can start studying them for tips so I can develop my own couples therapy theory?

Anyway, September is the month in Florida where they pair up and putz around campus filling their bellies and enjoying each other’s crested-head company. I’ve been sending Jesse pictures of the cranes. He appreciates them, but I don’t think he gets as riled up about their exclusivity, so I thought I’d share with you.

Raising my glass to you, Sandhill Cranes, one of the few species that makes monogamy look so damn good.

Managing Conflict: Accepting Influence

Aaaand we’re back.

If you’re just tuning in, I’m covering the basics of The Sound Relationship House, a relationship theory used in couples counseling by Dr. John Gottman. Some fun things I think you’d be interested in knowing about Gottman:

  • He used to be a computer programmer (kind of like this other awesome guy I know).
  • He and his wife, Julie Schwartz Gottman have a corgi they keep in their office at all times.
  • Based on his theory, he can predict the likelihood a couple will divorce ~94% of the time after observing them having an argument.

Kind of awesome, huh? Now, you get why I’m devoting so much of my time to breaking this stuff down. Managing conflict (“having a good argument”) can be the predictive factor in the health of a relationship.

Past posts about this theory include:

Building Love Maps
Fondness and Admiration
Turning Towards
The Positive Perspective
Manage Conflict

As we’ve discussed, the Managing Conflict part in a relationship is pretty essential. People argue. Couples have disagreements. The world keeps spinning. However, managing conflict brings you into the “second story” of your relationship. This is when you get past all of the stuff you’re wading through in the bottom floor of your relationship and begin to see those things that you see in Disney movies. There are songs, handholding, vows of everlasting love, and singing crabs with Jamaican accents.

OK, it’s not that delusional (Thanks Walt Disney for all those unrealistic expectations, I’m still waiting on my glass slipper and seven dwarves). But, BUT! It is pretty great because you start to see your partner as someone you genuinely like and can confide in. You stop arguing about the things that never change and you move into productive conversations that change the way you experience your life with your partner.

So, last we left off, we were discussing Softened Startup. Today, it’s Accepting Influence. I know you’re excited. Grab your popcorn, your Snow Caps, and your overpriced soda. It’s time for the show that never ends: relationships.

Accepting Influence is a lot like how it sounds.

When Gottman watched couples argue in his research, he found the couples who succeeded and thrived started their conversations gently. They didn’t bombard their partner with tears, screaming, passive aggressive manipulation, or puppies (although, that would be hard to resist). They also let their partner’s reasons for feeling a certain way (even if it’s different from their own) influence them. They don’t necessarily change their minds, but they do empathize. They do things like nod, say “I see where your coming from”, and they say “Ohhh, so that’s why you like the Seminoles? Well, I guess I can forgive you now.”

Really though, it’s not about completely changing how you feel, or more specifically, changing how your partner feels, because that’s just not likely to happen 100% of the time and generally, people get really resentful when they are constantly being told “Hey, I know what you’re saying and everything, but I’m not actually listening, I’m just waiting for my turn to talk and convince you that I’m right and your logic is infallible/wrong/stupid/preventing me from watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Accepting Influence means listening to your partner and finding out WHY they feel the way they do and what, if anything, can be done to create a dialogue about the problem issue.

For example, I hate scary movies. HATE. Can’t watch them. They make me anxious and I go to sleep and have nightmares about zombies and serial killers. I spend all night hearing what are usually normal noises (fan whirring, cat meowing, fish swimming) and turning them into someone walking up my stairs, sharpening their knife, planning my demise, using my dishes and not washing them.

Jesse loves scary movies. He likes to watch them at night. He likes to watch them in the dark. Then, like a crazy person, he falls asleep. He just goes to bed. He sleeps like someone gave him a warm glass of milk and read him “Goodnight Moon” before bed. It’s okay to hate him if you’re like me and you think scary movies are the reason the U.S. is still at war and I don’t own a mini giraffe yet.

Now, we’ve talked about it and Jesse knows I can’t sleep, much less walk around without feeling like I’m going to accidentally punch my cat if he sneaks up on me and I assume he’s a robber or a zombie that was hiding under my bed and decided to swat at my legs with his fake cat furry paw to throw me off his brain-eating trail. But, it still majorly bugs Jesse that all movies that are deemed “scary” (I’m adverse to diet scary or scary-lite, too) are immediately eliminated on Netflix. He gets it though. I’ve explained my bad dreams, I’ve explained how scared and anxious I feel, I’ve explained that I know I am completely irrational with these fears, and he has listened and said “That’s completely unreasonable, but I want you to sleep. I will watch the movies on my own time.” Or something less profound, but still conveying the same meaning, which is “I hear you, I respect you, I want you happy. I will do my best to meet your needs.”

So, we watch a lot of brutal action movies, documentaries, and Kung-Fu. It’s not Disney movies or Bravo, but I get my sleep and Jesse gets his testosterone.

Any Questions?

What are some of the biggest moments of “Accepting Influence” you’ve experienced in your relationships?
How did it makes things better/worse?
Do you hate scary movies like me?
Are you honestly worried about a zombie apocalypse one day?