Gottman Therapy: How Does It Work?

Maybe you and your partner have been struggling to resolve a recurring conflict. Perhaps you feel like your partner has their guard up, and they’re never vulnerable around you anymore. When you do try to discuss sensitive issues, you can’t help but criticize each other harshly. Or maybe you worry that contempt has been growing between the two of you. In the long run, you’re concerned that this could spell out the end of your relationship.

Issues like these comprise what therapist John Gottman refers to as “the four horsemen,” which are the four primary relationship problems that lead to resentment and breakups. Through the Gottman method, a couples therapist can develop a customized approach to help partners overcome these issues. Here’s how the Gottman method could help you and your partner.

Create “Love Maps”

Your therapist will guide you both through building “love maps,” which involves developing an active, continuous awareness of your partner’s inner world. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, daily routines, fears, and hopes for the future, as well as their core values.

Express Your Appreciation For Each Other

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to take your partner for granted and neglect to express how much you truly love and care about them. Stating your admiration and appreciation for your partner is a key aspect of Gottman therapy. You’ll also learn to appreciate their quirks and flaws.

Turn Toward One Another

When you’re struggling, turning away from each other and “stonewalling” can feel easier in the heat of the moment. But in Gottman therapy, you’ll work on turning towards each other and engaging in those tough conversations, even when you’re tempted to push the problem under the rug. Turning toward each other is just as important when you’re discussing mundane topics. It signifies your interest in your partner.

Accept Each Other’s Influence

It’s inevitable that partners influence each other’s values, habits, and lifestyles. In a healthy relationship, this helps keep the spark alive! Gottman therapy will teach you to how to account for your partner’s preferences, accept compromises, and adapt to their needs. This will establish a fair balance of power in your relationship.

Tackle “Solvable” Problems

Lots of problems that feel insurmountable are actually quite solvable with the right approach. Through Gottman therapy, you’ll learn helpful techniques for finding compromise, like softening your tone during conversations, responding positively when your partner offers suggestions for addressing the issue, and emphasizing addressing the problem as a team rather than bickering as individuals.

Learn To Manage Conflict

Sometimes, a particular, low-stakes conflict will persist throughout your relationship. For example, perhaps one partner loves their career and works long hours, while the other partner is more laid-back and wishes they could spend more time together. In this case, learning how to manage that conflict rather than attempting to solve it is a skill of its own. Gottman therapy can show you how to deal with conflicts in healthy ways as you move forward in your relationship.

Create Shared Meaning

Finally, Gottman therapy presents an opportunity for couples to create shared meaning. You’ll focus on important moments in your history as a couple and reflect on how far you’ve come together since you began dating. Additionally, you’ll identify your shared values, which you can use to guide your next steps. You’ll also think about your goals as a couple and how you can achieve them.

Are you and your partner interested in the Gottman method? Working with a Gottman therapist can help you strengthen your relationship. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for couples therapy.