2 Ten-Minute Talks That Will Save Your Relationship
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
2 Ten-Minute Talks That Will Save Your RelationshipKatie And Gay Hendricks Share Decades Of Wisdom
Most couples suffer from a lack of intimacy—but the loss often goes undetected because it erodes so slowly they don’t notice it. Here’s why: Emotionally rich communication gets extinguished over time, replaced by random talk about the “stuff” of life—a child’s dental appointment, the broken upstairs toilet, who’s going to pick up food after work. Communication about “stuff,” particularly about “stuff that’s not working,” gradually becomes the dominant tone of the relationship.
One of the best things we ever did in the early years of our own relationship was to come up with a new solution to that problem. We put it to work first in our own lives, in the form of two sit-down conversations per week, each devoted to a specific purpose. We devoted one ten-minute session to what we designated Stuff Talk, all the business-y things that need to be dealt with in every relationship. We devoted the second sit-down conversation to what we called Heart Talk: all the feelings, both tough and tender, that often don’t get discussed consciously in the course of the week.
The Ten-Minute Stuff Talk
This simple conversation has extraordinary power. When we first started to do our own Stuff Talks in the early 1980s, we did it simply as an organizational tool. However, we quickly realized that the Stuff Talk also has great power as a facilitator of creativity. Without hiccups in the flow of intimacy caused by communication glitches around trivia, we found a deeper degree of connection with our creativity.
For example, picking the right doorknobs for your dwelling is trivial but necessary. If you’re passionate about interior decorating, getting the right doorknobs might not even seem trivial. In any case, it will need to be discussed at some point. However, you don’t need to start discussing it, as a couple in one of our seminars did, in the midst of making love.
That’s an extreme example, but think of it as a metaphor for a habit we humans have: interrupting the flow of intimacy with communications about things we don’t actually need to be talking about right then. With the Ten-Minute Stuff Talk, your main goal is to pack as much of the Stuff as possible into the ten minutes of the meeting, so that conversations about the trivial necessities of life don’t get scattered throughout the day.
Make And Maintain A List
One key to successful Ten-Minute Stuff Talks is to keep a list between meetings so you can jot down the things you need to talk about during the ten minutes of the session. For example, we tend to do our Stuff meetings on Tuesday or Thursday evenings. If something comes up during the rest of the week, we write it down on a pad we keep for the occasion.
Step-by-Step Instructions for a Ten-Minute Stuff Talk
Step One: Touch and Presence
Begin with a few moments of touch and presence so that you can remember the higher purpose of handling the details of chores and other trivial necessities: feeling a deeper and more harmonious flow of love and intimacy in your life.
Choose one of these options:
· Sit close enough so you can each have one hand on your heart and one hand on your partner’s heart. Make sure you find a place to touch where you can rest your arm comfortably for a few moments.
· Sit side by side with each of you placing a hand on the other’s abdomen or thigh. Find a comfortable place to rest.
Breathe together for a minute or so without talking. Enjoy being together. Appreciate each other’s presence. Don’t skip this step in your haste to get to the Stuff. Presencing is what it’s all about and what clearing the Stuff will enhance, so favor presence first.
Step Two: The List
If you made a list beforehand of things to cover, bring the list out and add any other things to it you wish to discuss. If you haven’t made one beforehand, create a list now. When you have your list ready to go, pick the most important item first. If there’s disagreement about what’s most important, flip a coin. Then tick your way down the list, having what we call Conversations for Action.
Step Three: Conversations for Action
A Conversation for Action is a simple structure for getting things done on time. Essentially, you complete one sentence: Who agrees to do what by when.
Katie (who) agrees to get the handouts to the printer (what) by 5 P.M. Tuesday (when).
Gay (who) agrees to call John, our videographer (what), to arrange a planning meeting before noon tomorrow (when).
The Conversation for Action structure simplifies a major obstacle for partners: assuming that an agreement has occurred when actually nothing has been decided. If thinking or saying the following sentences sounds familiar, the Conversation for Action will radically change your life.
· “I thought you were picking up the dry cleaning.”
· “You said you’d order those supplies before going to the gym.”
· “Why is there no peanut butter in the refrigerator again?!”
· “Why do I always end up cleaning up?”
The Ten-Minute Heart Talk
The Ten-Minute Heart Talk is designed to give you a reliable, powerful way to deepen intimacy and move through issues that have an emotional charge to them. Whether you use it to explore decisions, solve problems, or savor positive feelings, the Heart Talk will bring you closer while honoring your individual perspectives and welcoming your uniqueness into the conversation.
Step-by-Step Instructions for a Ten-Minute Heart Talk
Step One: Touch and Presence
Choose one of these options:
· Sit across from each other, close enough so you can rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your partner’s heart.
· Sit side by side with each of you placing a hand on the other’s heart. If you can’t comfortably put a hand on the other’s chest, rest your hand on his or her thigh or simply sit close enough to be in physical contact with each other.
Enjoy a minute of breathing together without talking. After your minute of purely breathing together, move on to . . .
Step Two: Expressing Willingness and Commitment
Take a moment to each express your willingness and com-mitment to communicate everything that really needs to be communicated within the next ten minutes. It’s important to get a “Yes” to that commitment, so that you don’t unconsciously let a conflict go beyond your agreed-upon time limit.
Step Three: Feelings, Wants, and Needs
This step is the heart of the Heart Talk, your opportunity to communicate about the joys, angers, hurts, and fears that go on in the foreground and background of relationships. Do your best to communicate them from a position of healthy responsibility instead of blame. We suggest alternating speaking and listening, either sentence by sentence or using a timer to give each person equal communication time. Listener, this is an opportunity to deepen your presencing skills. You can practice turning toward your partner with an open posture, generating wonder rather than blame, breathing easily and moving so your body doesn’t get stuck in familiar ruts. Listener, use the Heart Talk time to practice your Loop of Awareness to deepen your experience of presencing your inner world, your partner’s expression, and the space between you. You can enhance your connection each time you engage in a Heart Talk.
Speaker, focus on two areas: feelings and wants/needs. To express feelings, say things like:
I’m so happy that . . .
I’m scared about . . .
I’m angry about . . .
I felt hurt when . . .
Avoid saying things like:
You never . . .
You always . . .
How could you . . .
In airing out all your feelings, make sure you devote plenty of those ten minutes to sharing positive feelings, things you appreciate about your partner, and good times you’ve had.
Communicate any wants and needs in the same straightfor-ward way. Say things like:
Here’s something I’d really like . . .
I’d like you to do instead of .
Avoid saying things like:
You’re never going to change, are you?
You’re driving me nuts.
I want something for me for a change, since you always get every-
thing you want!
Step Four: Complete with Appreciation
It’s important to make and keep meaningful agreements in any relationship. One way you can practice keeping your agreements is to be impeccable about maintaining your ten-minute time limit. However, sometimes you’ll be in the middle of something important when your ten minutes are up. When that happens, handle it consciously by making a new agreement to continue the discussion. If you do that, though, both people have to want to continue. If you can’t agree on whether or not to continue, schedule another Ten-Minute Heart Talk, perhaps later that day or the next day.
When you’re finished with your ten minutes (or have scheduled a follow-up conversation), pause for another moment of silent connection. Tune in to your breathing. At the same time, be aware of your partner’s breathing. Tune in to something you genuinely appreciate about your partner and express that out loud. Make it simple: “I appreciate . . .” Then express from your heart. Rest in connection for as long as you like before resuming your regular activities.
This is the simplified version of this technique, we go into more detail in our new book, Conscious Loving Ever After, however, if you would like to read the whole chapter, we are also giving it away for free for a limited time here.