Communication is everything

  1. You have to treat communication like playing a sport: there will be parts that are uncomfortable, feel unnatural or unpleasurable. Commit to pushing through them to make it to the win.
  2. Winning looks like: you can tell each other everything - when you're grateful; when you find another person attractive; when you're angry; when you're sad. You communicate because you know you are protected, heard and loved.
  3. The minute you give up on this, thinking you're good enough or you've made enough progress, is the minute your relationship will consciously start to die slowly.

Communication Tools

The Clearing Model
View the clearing model PDF.
  • This was our #1 tool when we first started out.
  • We memorized the language and learned to share our issues (big or small) with each other.
  • If it bothers or hurts you on any level, clear it. Don't sweep anything under the rug. As you begin to learn each other's true preferences and mindsets, you'll avoid little issues again that can build up for average couples. The clears will become less frequent.
  • Practice sharing with everything and be extra accepting of any emotions. Even if your partner clears something that hurts you, try to imagine they are talking about a problem with someone else and really make them feel heard, loved and understood.
  • Eventually, doing this became slightly more casual, as we had created a relationship norm of getting “clear” and truly hearing each other. We still slip up, and then we catch ourselves, and feel and share all of our feelings, and make the other person feel truly heard.
  • If, like most relationships, you haven’t always had excellent communication, you swept things under the rug. Feelings you felt that your partner didn’t make you feel were totally acceptable. Things that bothered you that you didn’t share. Suggestion: Have 2 “listening” dates - each focused one partner's old issues - with the goal of making the other feel heard, loved, and creating a healthy foundation for your new communication.
  • What winning looks like: you are always 100% clear with each other. Clear = there's no underlying issues built up that might come up in another form.
  • Normal Person Example: My partner leaves their dishes in the sink, and I think that's gross but not big enough to make a fuss about. Everytime they do it, I get put into a slight negative state. Over time I start to associate that negative state with them, causing me to explode in one area of our relationship - maybe completely unrelated to dishes.
  • #DateWell Example: My partner leaves their dishes in the sink, and I think that's gross but not big enough to make a fuss about. I force myself to clear it with them even though it's uncomfortable. I let them know it's small, but I want to honor our commitment to stay clear. They hear me out, make me feel totally understood, and offer a solution or compromise on it that makes me feel good. The issue disappears, never to be had again! 

Love Languages
  • Everyone receives love slightly differently: I might be so excited by a gift, where another person might like it but not be as thrilled.
  • This is a real psychological phenomenon. We're a hybrid of all of them, but most people have 1-2 dominant love languages. There are 5:
    • Words of Affirmation (compliments, kind words)
    • Acts of Service (doing nice things for them)
    • Receiving Gifts
    • Quality Time
    • Physical Touch
  • Figure out yours and your partner's “love languages” to better express love to each other.
  • Normal Person Example: I always clean up after my partner, make sure they have everything they need, and go out of my way to make sure they are taken care of but they still don't think I put enough into our relationship. I don't get it!
  • #DateWell Example: While my love language is acts of service, my partner's is quality time. I express love by taking care of them, but they most receive love when I turn off my phone and hang out with them for a couple hours. So that's what I'll do to make them feel loved!

Read a good summary of the 5 love languages here

Go here and take the quiz to discover each of your love languages (you don’t have to enter a real email address).

Apology Languages
  • Even more meaningful for us was learning our apology languages. Just like love, we all want to hear “I'm sorry” in different ways.
  • Normal Person Example:
    • *Partner 1 pisses off Partner 2 doing x*
    • Partner 1: “I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that.”
    • Partner 2: “Fine, I forgive you”.
    • *1 week later, fighting about a totally different topic* Partner 2: “That's just like you to only think of yourself, just like last week when you did x!”
    • *Partner 1 is very confused why this is still an issue and now pissed off*
  • #DateWell Example:
    • *Partner 1 pisses off Partner 2 doing x*
    • Partner 1 - knowing the Partner 2's apology language is 'Accepting Responsibility' - makes sure to apology in a way that makes them feel good!: “I'm sorry. I take full responsibility for what I did.”
    • Partner 2: “Thank you, I forgive you”.
    • *Partner 2 genuinely forgives partner 1*

Go here and take the quiz to discover each of your apology languages (again, you don’t have to enter a real email address).

Fight Better
  • If you start arguing or are having a hard conversation, do the following to optimize the success rates:
    • Hold hands
    • Look in each others eyes
    • Avoid hard conversations over the phone (including text, Facetime, and phone calls) at all costs!
    • 20 second hugs → you'll get some endorphin release :)
    • 6 second kisses → same endorphin release - my preferred method :)
The above tips are from Wired for Love, an excellent book!

What Good Listeners Actually Do

“In our experience, most people think good listening comes down to doing three things:
  • Not talking when others are speaking
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“Mmm-hmm”)
  • Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word”
They found that people’s assumptions about being a good listener are wrong!
  • “Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks. To the contrary, people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight. These questions gently challenge old assumptions, but do so in a constructive way. Sitting there silently nodding does not provide sure evidence that a person is listening, but asking a good question tells the speaker the listener has not only heard what was said, but that they comprehended it well enough to  want additional information. Good listening was consistently seen as a two-way dialog, rather than a one-way “speaker versus hearer” interaction. The best conversations were active.
  • Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem. The best listeners made the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesn’t happen when the listener is passive (or, for that matter, critical!). Good listeners made the other person feel supported and conveyed confidence in them. Good listening was characterized by the creation of a safe environment in which issues and differences could be discussed openly.
  • Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation. In these interactions, feedback flowed smoothly in both directions with neither party becoming defensive about comments the other made. By contrast, poor listeners were seen as competitive — as listening only to identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next response. That might make you an excellent debater, but it doesn’t make you a good listener. Good listeners may challenge assumptions and disagree, but the person being listened to feels the listener is trying to help, not wanting to win an argument.
  • Good listeners tended to make suggestions. Good listening invariably included some feedback provided in a way others would accept and that opened up alternative paths to consider. This finding somewhat surprised us, since it’s not uncommon to hear complaints that “So-and-so didn’t listen, he just jumped in and tried to solve the problem.” Perhaps what the data is telling us is that making suggestions is not itself the problem; it may be the skill with which those suggestions are made. Another possibility is that we’re more likely to accept suggestions from people we already think are good listeners. (Someone who is silent for the whole conversation and then jumps in with a suggestion may not be seen as credible. Someone who seems combative or critical and then tries to give advice may not be seen as trustworthy.)”