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For the next 8 weeks, Eric and I are committed to going on the “Eight Dates” prescribed in Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, Doug Abrams, and Rachel Carlton Abrams. We will then share our experience each week (well, as much of the experience we want to share with you)!


This week was our first date. As the book suggests, we are taking turns planning each date. Sabrina planned this date. 


The authors suggested going somewhere up high to have a vantage point to look far and wide (as we would be doing in our relationship as well). So I chose the Portland City Grill (it is on the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Building in downtown Portland). 

In the past, we’ve only gone to this special place for big occasions, but I felt like this was a very special occasion! It is the first of eight consecutive dates we have made a commitment to doing in order to grow our relationship! 


With our phones put away, we were able to enjoy a long, luxurious dinner while discussing the topic at hand: Trust and Commitment (the walls of The Sound Relationship House). 


The assignment for this date was to survey your relationship and how you have leaned into your partner — and to celebrate all the ways in which they have been there for you. The book lists 99 possible ways you might think about this in your own relationship. 

For me, I was able to share all the ways throughout our almost 42 years of marriage that Eric has been there for me. It was a chance to revisit some of the highlights as well as the lowest of lows we have weathered in our relationship — and celebrate, remember, and cherish one another. 


For example I remembered how Eric was my birthing partner. As a doula (one of my many “hobbies”), I really know how difficult it can be to comfort a woman in the throes of childbirth. He was a stellar partner for me! I couldn’t have asked for anyone different. I remember the nurse actually saying she wished she could have videotaped him because she said she had never seen a better partner! That made me burst with pride, and remembering his tender attentiveness, strength, and deep encouragement reminded me of many other times he has stepped up like that. 


I thought of how he’s been my nurse. And how he cared for his dad while he was living with us — and even through his dad’s death. I thought of him loving my mother and caring for her deeply as she lived with us and had many medical needs. 


Then it led me to think (and share) how I admire how he loves our grandchildren. He gets on the ground and plays with them and tenderly cuddles and cares for them, even changing diapers. He even looked after two of our grandkids (ages 3 and 1) all by himself for a whole weekend in November. We had already committed to taking them when I was given the opportunity to go to Seattle to get advanced training with the Gottman Institute, and he stepped right in and told me to go.


Likewise, he shared with me how much he appreciates the ways he has been able to lean on me when his chips were down and he had been discouraged and couldn’t see the bright side. He said I’ve been there for him in ways he deeply appreciated. 


We celebrated times we have traveled together — and even lived overseas twice with our kids! We have honored each other’s dreams! We remembered ways we have been there for one another spiritually. 

There was so much to talk about! With 99 possible ways you could celebrate, you definitely need a couple hours to reminisce. 


With all this remembering, it’s not unlikely that you’ll come across a few bumps in your conversation. (Interestingly, the next date talks about conflict.) An area Eric and I tend to struggle with is finances, so on this date, we decided to save that topic for next week because there are some wounds and differences there we will need to revisit. 


In the meantime, if, like us, some wounds and ruptures come up through remembering, that’s okay. If you are in repair mode, be as gentle as possible with yourself and your partner. Take time to think deeply of the things you do appreciate, and focus on these. 


All in all, our first of the eight dates was wonderful! We can’t wait for you to try it, too. 


The challenge is on! Find a place high up. And remember, it doesn’t have to be super fancy or cost a lot (I even considered packing a picnic and trekking to the top of a parking structure if we didn’t have time or money for a fancy dinner at the Portland City Grill). 

Get the book and/or download the summary of each date here.

Happy dating!