Every relationship faces its fair share of challenges, and even the strongest couples can find themselves in rough waters at times. In many relationships, what was once a fulfilling and rewarding partnership can eventually lose its spark and leave both sides feeling unsatisfied. There are likely multiple factors at play and identifying the starting point for repair can be a daunting task.

However, there is an evidence-based method that can help couples navigate these challenges, improve communication, and build a lasting, loving connection. The Gottman Method, developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, is a research-based approach to couples therapy that has helped countless couples find their way back to each other. Dr. John Gottman, observed over 3,000 couples over four decades, and was able to successfully identify the differences between stable and unstable couples.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the Seven Principles of the Gottman Method and how they can transform your relationship. Plus, we’ll introduce you to our couples workshop, where we use these principles to help couples build stronger, healthier partnerships.

Principle 1: Enhance Your Love Maps

A strong foundation for any relationship is understanding each other deeply. Building a “love map” means getting to know your partner’s likes, dislikes, their dreams, fears, hopes and other important information about their partner’s inner world. It involves active listening, empathy, and staying curious about your partner’s thoughts and feelings. This helps maintain intimacy, and better prepares one to deal with stressful events and conflict.

Principle 2: Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration

Gottman found that couples who thrive in their relationships express affection and admiration for each other regularly. The Gottman Method emphasizes the importance of highlighting each other’s positive qualities and showing appreciation for your partner. This creates a sense of safety and love in the relationship.

Principle 3: Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away

In the Gottman Method, couples learn to recognize and respond to each other’s bids for attention and connection. These bids can be as simple as a smile, a question, or a gesture. By turning toward each other consistently, couples can build trust and intimacy.

Principle 4: Let Your Partner Influence You

When couples work as a team, they are more likely to stay together. Letting your partner influence you isn’t the same as allowing someone else to control you. It’s about involving your significant other in decisions to show that you value their insights and take their feelings and opinions into consideration.

Principle 5: Solve Your Solvable Problems

Not all problems can be solved, but many can. The Gottman Method teaches couples how to differentiate between solvable and perpetual issues and offers practical tools for resolving the former. This principle empowers couples to find compromise and create win-win solutions.

5 Steps to Fight Better if Your Relationship is Worth Fighting For (gottman.com)

  1. Soften your approach: start from a calm, respectful place so both partners feel positive about themselves.
  2. Learn to send and receive repair attempts: these are behaviors that de-escalate the tension, allowing room to be more receptive to solutions.
  3. Soothe yourself and each other: take a break when emotions are high and ask questions to learn how to soothe each other.
  4. Compromise: find a solution you can both live with through negotiating and discovering ways to accommodate each other.
  5. Address emotional injuries: arguments can leave emotional wounds. They are normal and often require talking about or “processing”.

Principle 6: Overcome Gridlock

Gridlock conflicts and perpetual issues in relationships were found to often stem from unfulfilled dreams. The goal is not to necessarily solve the problem itself, but to have healthy and meaningful conversations about it. Gottman’s steps to build willingness, cooperation and compromise are as follows.

Overcoming Gridlocked Conflict (gottman.com)

  1. Become a “Dream Detective”: reflect on potential dreams and values you have buried or ignored within the issue.
  2. Explain your position without blame or criticism: understand the dreams and values you and your partner have within the conflict respectfully.
  3. Soothe each other: these issues are stressful and may require breaks to avoid high emotions.
  4. Accept that some issues are unsolvable: goal is to remove the hurt so the problem stops being a source of great pain.

Principle 7: Create Shared Meaning

A meaningful relationship is built on shared values, goals, and traditions. Couples are encouraged to establish rituals, both big and small, that bring them closer together and create a sense of purpose in their relationship.

At Constantly Healthy Counseling & Coaching, we have faith in the transformative potential of the Gottman Method for improving relationships. This is why we provide a couples workshop designed around these seven principles, aimed at enhancing the bond between partners and fostering increased happiness in their shared journey.

Workshop Outcomes + Benefits:

  • Learn how to identify and address the negative interactions that you and your partner get stuck in.
  • Better understand romantic love – the pivotal moves & moments that define a relationship.
  • Better understand your emotions and needs and your partners’ emotional responses and needs.
  • Be able to describe and control negative interactions, or loops, that create pain & distance.
  • Be able to shape the healing moments of reaching and responding that create a secure bond.

What You and Your Partner will Learn:

  • Move out of negative cycles that keep you stuck and disconnected
  • Learn new tools to create positive communication patterns
  • Repair and forgive emotional injuries
  • Magic behind strong connection and intimacy
  • Key to building a secure and lasting relationship bond

By participating in our couples workshop, you and your partner can deepen your connection, improve communication, and create a more satisfying and fulfilling relationship. Gottman Seven Principles of Gottman Couples Workshops Winter Park, Orlando, etc | Constantly Healthy Counseling & Coaching
(This article was contributed by College of William & Mary Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s Student, Rachel Bradley)

Sources:

1. https://www.gottman.com/blog/5-steps-to-fight-better-if-your-relationship-is-worth-fighting-for/
2. https://www.gottman.com/blog/overcoming-gridlocked-conflict/

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