The Eight Conversations That Matter Most in Relationships


Drs. John & Julie Gottman  // January 30, 2019


Some conversations matter more than others in relationships.

You connect and fall in love by talking. But what conversations should you have with your partner to know if your love will last—through challenges, surprises, joy, and pain?

And if you’ve been in a relationship for years, what conversations should you have to reinvigorate the connection and passion that first brought you together, but may have become routine?

The answers can be found in Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, our latest book with Doug Abrams and Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD.

Offering empowering ways to discover the love you want and deserve, this extensively tested program of eight fun, conversation-based dates will result in a lifetime of understanding and commitment, whether you’re newly in love or have been together for decades.

Because a happy relationship isn’t the result of having lots of things in common—as we often think. It comes from knowing how to address your core differences in a way that supports each other’s needs and dreams.

For forty years, we’ve studied what separates the masters of relationship from the disasters. Here are the eight conversation-based dates for a lifetime of love:

1. Trust and Commitment. Trust is cherishing each other and showing your partner that you can be counted on. Choosing commitment means accepting your partner exactly as he or she is, despite their flaws.

2. Conflict. Conflict happens in every relationship, and it’s a myth to believe that in a happy relationship you’ll get along all the time. Relationship conflict serves a purpose. It’s an opportunity to get to know your partner better and to develop deeper intimacy as you talk about and work through your differences.

3. Sex and Intimacy. Romantic, intimate rituals of connection keep a relationship happy and passionate. Couples who talk about sex have more sex but talking about sex is difficult for the majority of couples—it gets easier and more comfortable the more you do it.

4. Work and Money. Money issues aren’t about money. They’re about what money means to each partner in a relationship. Discovering what money means to both of you will go a long way in resolving the conflicts you may have around money.

5. Family. Approximately two-thirds of couples have a sharp drop in relationship satisfaction shortly after a child is born, and this drop gets deeper with each subsequent child. To avoid this drop-in relationship happiness, conflict needs to be low and you need to maintain your sexual relationship.

6. Fun and Adventure. Play and adventure are vital components of a successful and joyful relationship. It’s okay if you and your partner have different ideas about what constitutes play and adventure. The key is for you to respect each other’s sense of adventure and what it means to that partner.

Shot of a happy young couple dancing in their kitchen at home

7. Growth and Spirituality. The only constant in a relationship is change. The key is how each person in the relationship accommodates the growth of the other partner. Relationships can be more than just two individuals coming together—they can be stories of transformation and great contribution and meaning to the world.


8. Dreams. Honoring each other’s dreams is the secret ingredient to creating love for a lifetime. When dreams are honored, everything else in the relationship gets easier.


Every strong relationship is a result of a never-ending conversation between partners. Eight Dates guides you through how to talk—and how to listen—in a way that will be beneficial for you as an individual and as a couple.

Eight Dates is a reminder that it’s never too soon, or too late, to start a conversation.

Drs. John & Julie Gottman

World-renowned researchers and clinical psychologists, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. They have published over 200 academic journal articles and written 46 books that have sold over a million copies in more than a dozen languages.