Benefits of Keeping a Relationship Journal 1. It's a Novel Way to Spend Time With Each Other
As you journal together, you'll start seeing growth you never imagined possible. You'll discover new things about each other on a regular, introducing an element of novelty into your relationship.
Experiencing novel activities as a couple has this amazing ability to bring you closer, and improve your satisfaction with your partner3.
2. Remember Who Said What (And When)
How many times have you sworn blind that your partner said something they later denied? When you're in the middle of a disagreement, it's hard to remember who said what. Depending on what you were squabbling about, that lack of clarity can be the fuel that triggers a full-blown argument.
The great thing about a shared journal, is that it helps with memory recall. Remembering who said what during a conversation, especially one around money, sex, or other major topics, helps you to downgrade potential fights, and love each other better4.
3. Show Up as a More Mindful and Present Partner
Want to be more present in your relationship? Be more mindful, appreciative, and loving?
Great! Because journaling and mindfulness are connected.
When you're truly present with your person, you get to see them with a fresh pair of eyes. You don't judge them for the things they like, love or hate. You learn to appreciate them for who they are. The quirks. Their particular blend of crazy. You start developing a deeper sense of understanding, and openness. This in turn goes a long way to strengthening your relationship5.
The more you journal, the more you build your mindfulness muscle, the happier you'll feel with your partner6.
4. Improve Your Sex Life
Sex can make or break a relationship.
The more open, present, and honest you are with this aspect of your relationship, the more content you'll be with your sex life7.
We're humans. We're shaped and influenced by our upbringing, and the wider world around us. We come into relationships with pre-conceived ideas of what sex is, or what sex should be. For some, conversations around sex seem effortless. For others, not so much.
But here's a universal truth about sex; if you're not talking about it as a couple, chances are you're not getting what you want or need.
A journal is a safe way to bring up conversations around your sex life. Particularly if you find it awkward verbalising your bedroom antics.
But Is Couple Journaling Right for Your Relationship? How to Start a Relationship Journal Step 1: Choose Your Preferred Paper Journal Step 2: Find Time to Journal Step 3: Start Writing
Once you've gotten over the fear of making that first squiggly mark, your journal will feel less daunting.
Here are some great journal prompts you can use for inspiration:
How to Keep Your Relationship Journal Going? 1) Establish Ground Rules
Decide how you’ll share your relationship journal.
Will you sit down and do your journal together, or will you complete your diary entries independently? If you're writing together, how will you decide who goes first? Will that even matter?
If filling out the journal independently, when will you read your partner's entries? And how important is it that you see each other's reactions?
How will you structure your journal entries?
Will you have a fixed structure where you have to complete X amount of pages a day, or week? Or are you happy to flex on the length of your entries? Will you introduce a specific relationship theme each week, or use your journal as a casual way to discuss topics on the fly?
How will you differentiate your entries?
As much as your handwriting differs, you want to make sure your entries are easily identifiable. Decide whether you want to use different coloured pens, or allocate dedicated pages.
Decide how much time you'll commit.
How often do you want to journal? Every day? Every week? And for how long will you write? What happens if one, or both of you, has a crazy busy day at work that cuts into your journaling time?
2) Make the Journal Accessible, But Not Too Accessible Final Tips for Starting a Relationship Journal
Do Keep it Real
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Yes, that's scary, but it's your key to letting your partner see the real you. And for you to see the real them.
Do Start Small
It's tempting to want to throw yourself into your new journaling habit. But doing too much at the beginning can quickly lead to overwhelm. Take the pressure off yourself by starting with baby steps. Build up from there.
Don't Stay Off the Wagon
Remember, developing a consistent journaling habit takes time. If you fall off the wagon a few times, don't let that be the reason you give up.
You're going to have moments where your attempts to journal fall flat.
Maybe you've had a crappy day at work. You got stuck in useless meetings, and had to walk home in the rain, only to realise you forgot to pick up the chicken wings for tonight's dinner.
It’s okay to not feel like journaling every now and then. Just try not to skip too many days in a row because that's a sure-fire route to losing your motivation to continue.
Don't Beat Up On Yourself
If you promised to write a page, but only managed a couple of words, that's good enough. Don't beat yourself up over the thing you haven't done. Praise yourself for the thing you have done. The fact that you got something down on paper is worth acknowledging.
- Weeks, G. R., Fife, S. T., & Peterson, C. M. (Eds.). (2016). Techniques for the couple therapist: Essential interventions from the experts. Routledge.
- Purcell, M. (2016). The health benefits of journaling. PsychCentral. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
- Aron, A., Norman, C., Aron, E., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. (2000). Couples' shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(2), 273-84.
- Hambrick, D. Z., Katsumata, D. S. (2019). How research on working memory can improve your romantic relationship. Scientific American. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
- Sanger, F. G. (2020). How to use mindfulness to strengthen your relationships. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
- Kozlowski, A. (2012). Mindful mating: Exploring the connection between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 28(1-2), 92-104.
- Leavitt, C. E., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Waterman, E. A. (2019). The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, relational wellbeing, and self-esteem. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 45(6), 497-509.
- Stosny, S. (2013). The good and the bad of journaling. Psychology Today. Retrieved 26 August 2021.