5 Gottman Method Couples Communication Exercises and Conversation Starters

If you feel like your relationship has gotten into a bit of a rut, it might be because you’re spending too much time talking about to-do lists, logistics, and mundane tasks. It can become lonely to feel you’re spending a lot of time with each other but don’t feel like that time feels meaningful. Here is a list of free couples communication exercises to work to re-connect and feel more known and seen.

Gottman Method Exercises

Good communication is essential for couples to stay connected and maintain a strong relationship. If you want better conversations but are at a loss for words, try out some of these communication exercises to keep your conversations active and exciting. These are based on the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, which has predicted divorce with as high as 96% accuracy.

Couples Communication Exercise 1: Share Something You Have Been Grateful for Recently

Start by talking about something positive that has happened to each of you recently. Take turns expressing what you are each grateful for, whether it’s something small or large. Sharing your gratitude can help to shift the conversation away from any negative emotions and give you both a boost of happiness! Here are your conversation starters:

  • I really appreciate how thoughtful you are. An example of that was when you …
  • I am so grateful that we have found each other. We make a good team, especially when it comes to …
  • Thanks so much for helping me out with …, it really made a difference
  • I was so happy when I saw that you …
  • I appreciate your generosity. I particularly noticed the other day when you …

Couples Communication Exercise 2: Talk About Goals and Dreams for the Future

Talking about your dreams and goals for the future is a great way to foster closeness between you and your partner. Sharing about your written and unspoken ambitions can bring understanding and support to the relationship. Here are some questions to ask to get you started:

  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • “What are your biggest goals for this year?”
  • ” Do you ever fantasize about what you would do with a week together if money were no object?
  • “What kind of a legacy do you want to leave on the world?”
  • “What does your ideal vacation look like?

Couples Communication Exercise 3: Discuss a Skill, Hobby or Interest That You Would Like to Learn More About

We may all have knowledge and experience we already share with our partners, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more. Discussing a skill or an interest you would like to hone or develop is a great way to introduce new topics and even create new activities for the two of you to do together. Talk about what it is, and why you’re interested in it, and make some plans on how you could potentially learn more about that topic. Here are some activities to choose from to start your conversation exercise!

  • Join a book club
  • Take a cooking class together
  • Learn a new kind of exercise
  • Learn a new language
  • Attend a new style of entertainment (new band, comedy club, sporting event)

Couples Communication Exercise 4: Revisit a Time When You Overcame Obstacles Together

There is a reason many people vow to stay together “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” As a couple you two have had challenges come your way, and you got through them. Maybe there was some conflict, some bumps and bruises and some pain, but the important thing to hold on to is that you found a way to manage. We often learn the most during painful experiences as we develop new skills and do things we thought we would never have to do. This communication exercise is an opportunity to reflect on how you did your best to support each other during challenging times. Take turn asking each other questions. Here are some sample questions to choose from or make up your own:

  • “What do you think have been some of the most challenging times in our relationship?”
  • “What did you learn about yourself at that time?”
  • “What obstacles have we overcome together that you are most proud of?”
  • “What are our strengths when it comes to supporting each other during difficult times?”
  • “What have you noticed that works well for us when we are stressed or overwhelmed?”

Couples Communication Exercise 5: Talk About the Moment You First Met

Amy Bloom said, “Love at first sight is easy to comprehend; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.”

It’s not uncommon for couples to slump into mini-ruts sometimes, as it is impossible to keep the spark going every day for many years in a row. There is no reason to feel like something has gone wrong, but it is a good idea to look back and reflect on why and how you fell in love in the first place. As you complete this communication exercise, try to stay focused on how you felt at the time. Take turns asking each other these questions:

  • When did you realize you had a crush on me?
  • What stands out to you about the moment we first met?
  • What was it about our time together that make you want to keep seeing each other?
  • What were some of the things that made you nervous back then?
  • Ho did you know you had fallen in love?

Congratulations on trying out these couple’s communication exercises! Do you want to keep going?

Here is a free mini-series course on empathy, the single most important communication a couple can master.


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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