The Gottman Relationship Institute is one of the largest organisations in the U.S. dedicated to working with couples.
Co-founded by Drs. John and Julie Schwartz Gottman, the Gottman Relationship Institute has two major functions: helping couples directly, and providing state-of-the-art training to mental health professionals and other health care providers both in the U.S. and internationally.
The Gottman Relationship Institute applies leading-edge research on marriage in a practical, down-to-earth therapy and trains therapists committed to helping couples. No other approach to couples education and therapy has relied on such intensive, detailed, and long-term scientific study of why marriages succeed or fail.
The institute is committed to an ongoing program of research that increases the understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated.
Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically-based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s three decades of research with more than 3,000 couples. This research shows us what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.
Developed out of this research it was identified that to make a relationship last, couples must:
- Become better friends
- Keep conflict discussions calm
- Generate greater understanding between partners
- Break through and resolve conflict when they feel stuck
- Increase respect, affection, and closeness
- Support each other’s hope’s for the future
- Maintain improvements in your relationship
Drs. John and Julie Gottman have shown how couples can accomplish this by paying attention to what they call the Sound Relationship House, or the seven components of healthy coupleships.
1. Build Love Maps
This is a road map of your partner’s inner psychological world.
The fundamental process is asking open-ended questions.
It involves knowing one another and periodically updating the information.
2. Share Fondness & Admiration
The second story is the antidote for contempt.
This is about changing a habit of mind from scanning the environment for mistakes and then correcting them scanning the environment for what one’s partner is doing right and building a culture of appreciation, fondness, and respect.
3. Turn Towards
Bids for emotional connection need to be met … it’s about building an emotional bank account by developing awareness of how your partner asks for connection and expresses emotional needs, and then deciding consciously to turn toward these bids. This could be showing interest in something that takes your partner’s attention in the moment, or just stopping and tuning in when they have something to say.
4. The Positive Perspective
When the first 3 floors are stable, this floor happens without conscious effort – it comes ‘free’.
When you are in a positive frame of mind – in a peaceful conscious state rather than a stressed unconscious state, then you can handle conflict, and be willing to engage in successful repair attempts. If you are in Negative Sentiment Override (NSO) even neutral or positive messages are perceived as negative and you become hyper vigilant for negativity.
5. Manage Conflict
This next floor consists of two parts of conflict regulation.
During the process you will be learn to identify the core issues and the escalation triggers that lead to repeated negative cycles.
By understanding what triggers escalation (The Four Horsemen), and what the story is behind these triggers – e.g. your history (childhood), current stresses, personality types, differences between men and women, etc – you will be better equipped to recognise and deal with issues.
Conflicts are of two types – those that are resolvable and those that are perpetual or gridlocked. Specific tools enable all conflict to be dealt with in a manageable manner.
6. Make Life Dreams and Aspirations Come True
Having your life dreams and aspirations come true requires your partner to know and support your life dreams … and VICE VERSA!
When an environment of positive regard (friendship) is experiences, and you feel your partner is truly interested in you, conflict can to be negotiated respectfully and thoughtfully, and the relationship will go from strength to strength.
7. Create Shared Meaning
This is the attic of the house, where couples create a sense of shared meaning. This covers all sorts of aspects – how a couple move through time together, how they prioritise their time and their resources, the stories they tell one another about their lives, their family, their history, their culture, their beliefs and values, and their legacy.
Creating, sharing and enjoying a shared meaning system together is the pinnacle of all relationships.