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5 minute hack

Pavel Jurča/ PIXABAY

Could five minutes a day save your relationship?

Could taking five minutes out of your hectic morning to really connect with your partner over coffee be the key to a good relationship? An Australian relationship coach says it saved her marriage.

In a piece originally written for the Australian website Kidspot, which was picked up by several publications worldwide, Aston Simmonds explains that she and her husband, Adam, were on the brink of divorce four years ago.

Simmonds is a relationship coach, podcaster, author, speaker, and mother of two who works to inspire people to create the best lives and relationships possible.

The stress of parenting their two young kids had gotten to the couple. Their once meaningful communication had devolved into mostly housekeeping and family-rearing talk. "Parenting, bills, food shopping, and comparing and arguing about who was doing the most or not enough,” Simmonds recalls in the viral article.

“We started to wonder if this is what a relationship is meant to be like?” she writes.

Instead of calling a lawyer, the Perth-based relationship coaches started doing a 5-minute check-in over coffee every morning. And the results were powerful.

Simmonds says when she talks to couples, communication is almost always the area they find the most challenging.

“When couples feel like they don’t have time to communicate, women often feel like they can't express themselves, they feel misunderstood and don't feel heard. Men are left feeling like nothing they ever do is good enough and like they are not appreciated for what they are doing,” Simmonds writes.

Enter the 5-minute check-in.

But it’s not just a “How are you? Good?” and then back to your phones. There’s a specific set of questions Simmonds uses.

Here they are:

  • How are you feeling about yourself and our relationship?
  • What do you love about our relationship? What is working?
  • Is there anything on your mind that isn’t working that you haven't shared?
  • What is important to you this week and how can I support you? What do you need?
  • What actions do we need to take after this check-in?

“We begin with open communication about how we are both feeling in ourselves and within the relationship,” says Simmonds about the question, “How are you feeling about yourself and our relationship.” Each person takes one minute or less to share. “The intention is to listen,” she explains.

About the second question, “What are you loving about our relationship, what is working?” she says, “This process is to reflect on recent positive aspects of your partner or positive experiences that have strengthened your connection. The intention is to appreciate and celebrate each other first before correcting.”

The third question, “Is there anything on your mind that isn’t working that you haven’t shared?” works to bring to light “any concerns, worries, or unspoken thoughts. It's essential for both partners to feel comfortable and safe sharing openly. The intention is to hold a space of non-judgement for each other.”

The fourth step, “What is important to you this week and how can I support you? What do you need?” involves discussing your personal and shared goals. “Communicating your needs and brainstorming ways to support each other and ensure both your needs are being met is vital at this point.”

The last step, “What action do we need to take after this check-in?” is more pragmatic. “We decide what actions need to be taken, if any, and allocate or schedule them. For example, you may need to schedule a date, adjust your priorities, etc.”

Simmonds says this final one “is all about getting clear on the tangible action steps you need to take and deciding on the best solutions together.”

It sounds like a lot of ground to cover in five minutes, but it’s more about the practice, prioritizing the connection than anything.

“The hack is more than just a caffeine fix; it’s a relationship hack that keeps us connected, even in the midst of life’s chaos," Simmonds writes.

Could it really be that easy?

Jouslin Savra, LMFT, agrees that communication is one of the most important ingredients for a successful marriage. She says it allows partners to "gain important insights in terms of our perceptions and how we think." She adds that it also "builds trust and respect" between partners and prevents "small issues from developing into larger ones."

“I truly believe the difference between a successful relationship and a failing relationship is that [successful couples] check in with each other regularly, NOT just when they’ve had enough and are ready to check out,” writes Simmonds.