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Intimate Conversations

Attunement is when couples can understand each other at a deep level and lovingly express that knowledge to each other. It’s when real intimacy exists between them.

When you are attuned to your partner, you make genuine efforts to understand their emotions. When couples attune to each other, they feel more connected and loved, and they even have better sex.

Dr. Gottman suggests building attunement through what he calls the “art of intimate conversation.” Intimate conversation includes learning to put your feelings into words, asking open-ended questions, expressing empathy, and following up in order to deepen your connection.

Putting Your Feelings into Words

What emotions are you feeling? Uncomfortable? Insulted? Elated? Special? Affectionate? Communicate those feelings to your partner using "I feel" statements.

Asking Open-Ended Questions

Help each other explore feelings by asking open-ended questions. This is done by either asking targeted questions like, “What specifically is upsetting in this situation?,” or “How does this affect our relationship?,” or making specific statements that explore feelings like, “Tell me the story of that!”

Expressing Empathy

Empathy is shown by communication that your partner’s thoughts, feelings, and needs make sense to you and that you understand their experience. That does not mean that you necessarily agree with them. You might, for example, have an entirely different memory or interpretation of events. Empathy means communicating that, given your partner’s perceptions, these thoughts, feelings, and needs are valid and make sense. Both of your perceptions are valid.

Remember, in an intimate conversation, your job is to understand and validate, not to argue for your perception. Both partners take turns being understood. Having these types of conversations regularly will lead you to attunement.

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