The Gottman research has a goal of finding patterns of behavior, or ways of interactions, that could differentiate between couples that are happy from unhappy couples. Dr. Gottman relationship counseling and marital observations of couples found consistent sequences that differentiated happily married from unhappily married couples.
Dr. Gottman’s research discovered that to make a relationship work well, couples must work to become best friends, learn ways to manage conflict, and create a better support of each partner’s hopes for the future. Out of this research, the Gottman Institute designed a program to teach couples how to pay attention to what they refer to as the Sound Relationship House, or the nine components of healthy relationships.
The Sound Relationship House is built on 1) the foundation of “Love Maps,” help each partner to know the other partner’s inner world, history, fears, stresses, joys, and hopes. The comes 2) the “Shared Fondness and Admiration,” which can be described as the antidote for contempt. The main focus is on strengthening affection and respect within a relationship. 3) The third component is to “Turn Towards Instead of Away” from each other. The focus is to teach each partner to share his/her needs, be aware of attempts for connection and for the partners to turn towards the other. The partners will learn that each day provides opportunities to build upon closeness within relationship.
The fourth component in the Sound Relationship House is called “The Positive Perspective,” which main focus is having a positive approach to problems as opportunities to repair the relationship. To do this, the partner must have a positive view of their partner prior to resolving problems in the relationship. Both partners need to have a daily commitment to work on developing a Positive Perspective of the relationship and the other partner. The result is a more effective problem solving during conflict, more repair attempts (an action or statement that reduces escalating conflict) and a positive attitude interacting in the relationship. When you accept your partner, you will have more openness to his/her needs and wants.
The fifth component of the Sound Relationship House is learning ways to “Manage Conflict,” because conflict within a relationship is normal and natural and should be seen as ways to grow closer rather than farther apart. Gottman teaches that there are three focuses to learn in managing conflict: a) Let your partner influence you; b) Dialogue about problems; and c) Practicing Self-Soothing. All three help in accepting that there is an important difference in how each partner handles perpetual problems and solvable problems.
The sixth component in the Sound Relationship is “Make Life Dreams Come True.” Each partner learns to develop an attitude that encourages the other partner to talk honestly about his/her dreams, hopes, values, aspirations, and desires for the future. Do you know your partner’s dreams for the future, what he/she wants to accomplish, or even what mountain he/she would like to climb before death? Then comes the doing and planning ways to make the life dreams come true. This component makes relationships fulfilling and exciting!
The seventh component of the Sound Relationship is to “Create Shared Meaning,” the ability to create shared meaning, purpose, or a dream with your partner. The Gottman research showed that the happiest and healthiest couples consist of the ability to create shared meaning and legacy. This component requires couples to find, discuss, create rituals around, and implement shares goals such as raising kids together, adopting a shared lifestyle, volunteering for a cause, or committing to a shared faith. Shared meaning and friendship is the cement that holds a healthy and happy marriage together.
The eighth component of the Sound Relationship is “Trust.” Trust is knowing that your partner has your back and will be there for you in all situations. Trust is seeing your partner’s actions and words that benefits you and your life. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.” You have confidence that your partner has your best interests at heart. Trust develops as you and your partner move through life together and you both experience the support of the other. Nothing destroys trust more than relationship betrayal. Betrayal can come in small ways and also in huge destructive ways like infidelity.
The last and ninth component of the Sound Relationship model is “Commitment.” Marriage vows include the commitment as a lifelong journey, for better or worse, and if worse happens, then you will both be committed to improve it. Each partner is committed to cherishing the other partner’s positive qualities and having thankfulness for those positive qualities. Each partner is committed to use one’s energy into making the relationship work well and committed to the other partner. Commitment is knowing that no matter what your relationship will face, you are committed to working through the issue without ever having an option of leaving the relationship.
The Gottman Method of Couples Counseling has helped thousands of marriages become stronger and healthier. The method uses the forty years of studies and clinical practice to help couples receive greater understanding, connection and intimacy in their relationships.
We welcome you to give us a call to schedule a counseling session with an expert, caring marriage counselor from Front Range Counseling.