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The Power of the 10-Minute Heart Talk
Transform how you repair after disagreements in a systematic and reliable way.
One of the most powerful innovations in our relationship for keeping a high level of intimacy and for repairing ruptures is the 10-minute heart talk.
A heart talk is a time-bound container for taking ownership in a situation or emotional experience that is blocking openness or connection in our partnership.
A partner schedules a heart talk within 24-48 hours whenever they realize that there is a truth that needs to be shared to feel clear in the relationship.
We’ve iterated through different types of relationship check-ins, feedback sessions, and clearing conversations in the past few years, and we’ve found this structure to be the fastest and most effective. It restores connection in a high-leverage and reliable way that our nervous systems can handle and minimizes the impact that unaddressed issues can spill over in a relationship.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Intimacy and connection are strong values of ours — they’re the foundation for deeply loving partnerships.
As a result, we hold a strong commitment to share what relationship experts and authors Gay and Katie Hendricks call the “microscopic truth.”
Telling the microscopic truth refers to sharing our thoughts, feelings, and experiences — whenever they’re blocking deeper connection — with absolute honesty and authenticity, without filtering, editing, or holding back.
The pointer for when something needs to be shared is, “Am I leaking energy by withholding my experience?” When we swallow anger, suppress a desire for what we want, or feel guilty for a secret, we spiral in our thoughts and leak energy in our thought loops.
And in that disconnection from our emotional experience, we disconnect from our partners as well.
That’s why Gay and Katie write in Conscious Loving,
“With the liberated energy from seeing and communicating the truth of your patterns and feelings, you will ride to a new, higher level of love and intimacy.”
The practice of telling the microscopic truth — though it can be vulnerable and takes courage — fosters deep connection, trust, and safety in relationships.
Recurring Check-Ins Are Great But Insufficient
Many relationship advice columns advocate for recurring monthly or weekly check-ins, typically with a structured list of questions. While that’s helpful, we’ve found it insufficient for maintaining the level of intimacy and connection that we want in our relationship.
Whenever there’s a rupture or resentment sitting unspoken in the relationship, it ripples through other areas of the relationship. An unaddressed rupture from a small jab in the morning can mean emotional withdrawal, tension in everyday conversations, reduced openness to sex, or something else until it’s acknowledged.
The resentment leaks emotional energy — we lose presence and connection in the relationship. And a single wound, if allowed to fester for a month or even a week, can create significant damage over time.
If a boat is leaking water, we wouldn’t wait until a weekly or monthly check-in to patch it. So why would we wait if our relationship is leaking energy?
Sometimes, the issue is small and all that’s needed is a quick reveal of our emotional experience. “I felt hurt when you made that comment,” or “I feel annoyed that there’s a mess in the kitchen.”
Other times, it’s something larger that feels scary to surface without the safety of a container. That’s where the 10-minute heart talk comes in.
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The Anatomy of a Heart Talk
When asking for a heart talk, we look at the source of what’s blocking deeper connection with our partner, take full responsibility for it, and tell the full truth about how we feel to our partner.
More specifically, here’s what it entails.
Setting the Stage
The person feeling the emotional block takes ownership for scheduling the heart talk as soon as the other person is available. Most of the time, we’ll just schedule it on our shared calendar. Other times, we’ll ask, “I need a heart talk. When would you be available?”
Hold heart talks in a specifically dedicated space. Our brains create spatial associations with the key emotions that show up in that space. Ideally, we don’t cross-wire the often more intense emotions of a heart talk with the emotions that we might want to show up in the bedroom, for instance. We like to hold our heart talks on the stairs of our house.
Heart talks are time-bound to 10 minutes. We set a 10-minute timer for the container. We used to schedule hour-long heart talks (we called them clearing conversations back then), but found that we’d drain our systems and end up trying to power through.
Katie Hendricks advised us to aim for a 10-minute talk, and that’s worked wonders in creating a deeper level of safety. Sometimes, we might run over and schedule another 10-minute timer. But we’re targeting 10 minutes.
Treat heart talks as a two-way dialogue. Even though the initiator of the heart talk might be the one expressing their truth, the other partner also gets a chance to reflect and respond.
Open with positive intention for the relationship. The ultimate intention for any heart talk is to create deeper intimacy and connection. A heart talk can be daunting for both sides, and so it’s helpful to explicitly ground into a positive intention at the start of a heart talk. “I want to be a fuck yes to having children and there’s something I’m needing to feel that,” or “I want to feel excited about our sex life, and there’s something that’s blocking me right now.”
Assume that your partner is on your team. When we feel that we need to fight for our needs in a relationship, we end up polarizing our partners and actually invite our partners to fight back. When we drop the fight, we invite more receptivity.
Heart talks are ownership-based. They’re a way of taking ownership for a situation in the relationship that doesn’t feel aligned and that we’re taking steps to change. They’re not a way of making the other person wrong or blaming them for something (“You’re doing this wrong!”).
Ownership could include setting a boundary: “I’m not okay with the anger that’s getting directed at me. When anger is directed at me, I’ll walk away and let you know when I’ll be back.“
Or it could include the expression of a need: “I’m feeling resentment around sharing the car. I’m needing a day a week where I can just have the car to myself.”
Heart talks are not requests for the other person to change who they are. It’s easy to fall into the trap of needing the other person to be different than who they are for us to be okay. But that’s not unconditionally loving and creates further distance. On the other hand, it’s okay to ask for what we need and the boundaries we might set to take care of ourselves.
Pause the heart talk if blame shows up. We aim for ownership but sometimes we’ll still fail and blame leaks out. If either of us detects blame and sense our nervous system getting activated, we call a pause for five to ten minutes to allow our nervous systems to settle before resuming. Don’t try to power through a trigger.
Lead with curiosity to identify the root issue. Sometimes, we know there’s disconnection, and it might take some joint detective work to identify what caused it. Inspired by our relationship coach Ethan Henson, we’ve been asking ourselves, “What got dropped?” It’s a way of backtracking to figure out the initial moment where disconnection happened.
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The marker of a thriving and awakened partnership isn’t the absence of ruptures and resentments — it’s the direct addressing of them when they show up. And the practice of 10-minute heart talks has let us nurture our relationship in a deeply loving and ownership-oriented way through its ebbs and flows.