How The Gottman Method Can Help Couples
It is common for those in a relationship to have conflicts they must learn to resolve. Sometimes, partners can work out solutions for themselves. Other times, they may turn to therapy for help—and there's absolutely no shame in seeking professional help.
One such method that’s worth looking into is the Gottman Method, which was formed at the Gottman institute. What is the Gottman institute? It's the place where the Gottman Method was developed and where you can find a training center for therapists. It's also a good place to locate Gottman Method-trained therapists. How does Gottman marriage counseling work, and can it help couples struggling within their marriage?
What Is The Gottman Method?
The takes an assessment of a couple’s relationship and then intervenes using the Sound Relationship House Theory, which we will discuss later. When you go through the Gottman Method, you start with the assessment, during which you’re interviewed individually and together. You’ll fill out questionnaires about your relationship, receive feedback on it, then see how you stack up and exactly where you need intervention
After that, you will receive therapy, but you will get to decide, along with your partner and therapist, how frequent and how long each session will be. This allows for plenty of customization, depending on how much therapy you’ll need.
Once a plan is in place, you’ll have therapeutic interventions. These strive to improve three parts of your relationship:
- You and your partner should be friends in addition to being lovers. This will help improve the emotional connection the two of you have.
- Conflict management. You will learn how to deal with conflicts positively. Negative conflict resolution can make the situation worse.
- Creation of meaning. The two of you have a goal, and you will learn how to strive for that goal together.
The intervention also teaches you how to prevent a relapse in arguing. Other goals of the Gottman Method include:
- Ending miscommunication. Miscommunication is a big reason why many couples have problems, and the Gottman Method can teach you how to fix that.
- The Gottman Method works to increase the overall intimacy and affection between you and your partner.
- The Gottman Method encourages empathy for yourself and your partner.
- The Gottman Method aims to get rid of any barriers that are preventing your relationship from progressing.
If you are experiencing any issues in your marriage, it may be worth resolving them through the Gottman Method.
The Creator Of The Method
Who is John Gottman?
The Gottman Method was created by psychologist John Gottman, who has spent his life studying relationships. Some of his accomplishments include creating studies that predict the divorce rate and analyzing the stability of marriage. He has contributed to the movement of relationship counseling, which is designed to help improve marriages everywhere.
Gottman's Studies On Divorce
Seeing all the divorces that happened between couples, Gottman decided to study what causes couples to divorce. He discovered that couples divorce for many reasons, yet you could boil them down to four undesired behaviors. These include:
- Disliking your partner’s personality. Many partners have quirks or personality traits we dislike, but not communicating with your partner and learning to accept the flaws in their personality or take measures to improve them can lead to a divorce.
- Contempt, usually from a superiority perspective. Everyone likes to feel superior, and when conflict arises, you believe you’re the better one, and you condemn your partner for opposing you. Instead of realizing you can be at fault, too, you believe you have no faults.
- Defensive behaviors. It’s okay to defend your actions, but if you keep defending yourself no matter how strong the case is, it can stagnate the argument’s resolution. People need to learn to accept it if they’re in the wrong.
- Evading or ignoring your partner's criticisms. This is commonly used as a political tactic, but your relationship shouldn’t be as crooked as a politician’s. Most of the time, this is caused by feeling too overwhelmed by the criticism you’re receiving.
With that said, what do positive couples exhibit? They exhibit these attributes:
- Turning negatives into positives. We all can be negative sometimes, but a positive couple will take a negative event and make something good of it.
- Gentle handling of a conflict. When emotions fly, it just escalates the anger the couples will have for each other. You must keep a cool head, and that’s how you will prevail.
- Support of each other. This is something every couple should do, but many do not, instead they often scrutinize one another’s actions and forget to show support.
Gottman researched the behavior and relationships of newlyweds. In 2000, he interviewed 95 couples and asked many questions, such as history, beliefs about marriage, and general relationship questions. He looked at the answers and the positive and negative feelings they revealed and used them to determine whether or not the couples would divorce in five years. As it turns out, he was quite accurate with his predictions, with an accuracy of about 87%.
One method that we mentioned before measures a marriage’s effectiveness through the Sound Relationship House Theory. Your relationship is your home, and a good home will be strong and sound.
The Sound Relationship House Theory
The Sound Relationship House Theory consists of seven principles that are signs of a good relationship. These are:
- Building love maps. In other words, you’ve made a good map of your partner’s psychology, hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, history, and anything else that composes them. And your partner has done the same for you.
- Fondness and admiration. This is self-explanatory. The more respect and love the couple has for each other, the stronger this will be.
- Turning towards instead of away. In this principle, turning towards means to respond to your partner’s ways of connecting instead of ignoring them.
- A positive perspective. As you can imagine, this is when you look at conflicts through the lens of positivity.
- Managing conflict. The wording here is quite interesting. Most would say “resolve” instead of “manage,” but Gottman believes that conflict in a relationship is natural and can be good, so you should strive to manage it, not get rid of it.
- Making life dreams come true. This is when you and your partner discuss your hopes and dreams, and then you strive to accomplish them.
- Creating meaning. This is when you learn about myths, metaphors, and other dreams about your relationship.
If your relationship has these principles, along with trust and commitment as your foundation, you live in a strong house. If you don’t, you should make changes to the house before a storm comes and knocks it down.
Can The Gottman Method Help Me?
If you have considered couple’s therapy, you may wonder if the Gottman Method is right for you. Some couples may feel like their situation is too unique for therapy. However, Gottman believes that conflict is either resolvable or not, and those who have perpetual problems—no matter what they are—may benefit from the Gottman Method.
The Gottman Method has been built for any marital situation regardless of whether you’re rich, poor, same-sex, different cultures, different races, or so on.
Here are some reasons why you may want to consider the Gottman Method:
- You always have conflicts. One or two conflicts on occasion probably don’t require therapy, but if you are always fighting, this may mean you need therapy. However, even if you feel like you don’t fight all that often, the Gottman Method can still improve your relationship. Sometimes, therapy can be a vaccine for future conflicts rather than a cure for current ones.
- You feel like your partner just isn’t listening to you. Miscommunication is often a big reason why marriages fail, and by fixing your communication, you may be able to fix your marriage.
- The Gottman Method is good for any marriage problem: finances, sexual problems, parenting, or any other form of conflict.
- Even if you feel like your marriage is at its end, the Gottman Method may be able to help.
No matter what your relationship issue is, you may benefit from going to a therapist and applying the Gottman Method to your relationship.
If you and your partner think the Gottman Method is right for you, you can find help either in person or online. It's important to note that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy, and there are many Gottman-trained therapists working online. Online therapy can be a good choice for busy people.
ReGain is an online platform where you can find a Gottman-trained therapist to work with. After filling out a questionnaire, you and your partner will be matched with a therapist uniquely qualified to work with you and your situation. You can work with a therapist from the comfort of home at a time that's convenient for you.
There is no shame when it comes to seeking therapy for your relationship. If there’s a conflict and the two of you cannot resolve it, it may be a good idea to have a professional help cool your heads and teach you to be more empathetic towards each other. In therapy, you can learn methods for handling conflict and building your relationship up so it can stand the test of time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Does The Gottman Method Work?
The Gottman Method is based on the Sound Relationship House Theory, which John and Julie Gottman developed. John and Julie Gottman are researchers and clinical psychologists who developed the Gottman method as a couples counseling modality. According to the Gottman Institute website, John and Julie Gottman have been researching relationships for over 40 years. When John and Julie Gottman created the Sound Relationship House Theory, they included the following seven elements:
- Create meaning
- Make dreams come true
- Manage conflict
- The positive perspective
- Turn toward instead of away
- Fondness and admiration
- Build love maps
According to John and Julie Gottman, these seven elements—along with a foundation of trust and commitment—are the components of a healthy relationship. Gottman method couples therapy focuses on strengthening these elements during couples therapy, alongside other Gottman Method components.
Is The Gottman Method Effective?
Research indicates that Gottman therapy for couples is indeed an effective form of treatment. On the Gottman Institute website, there is information listed for providers interested in learning more about the Gottman Institute, the Gottman Method, and possibly becoming certified to conduct Gottman Method couples therapy themselves.
What Is The Gottman Repair Checklist?
The Gottman repair checklist is a checklist that couples can use to confirm the words or phrases they find helpful for reparation in various contexts. On the checklist, there are different sections, such as "I feel" and "sorry." Using these examples, the "I feel" section lists different ways to speak up about how you feel, and the "sorry" section lists different ways to communicate "I'm sorry." The Gottman Institute and Gottman relationship therapy methods help couples communicate more effectively and teach healthy relationship facets such as affection, supporting one another, and trust.
What Is The Biggest Predictor Of Divorce?
John and Julie Gottman have identified four predictors of divorce. According to the Gottman Institute, these predictors are contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling (The Four Horsemen). The Gottman Institute or the Gottman Method can help couples work through the "Four Horsemen" to have a healthy, happy relationship moving forward.
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