Understanding the Key Principles of Gottman Couples Therapy

There are many different treatment approaches to couples therapy. Today, many therapists specialize in building treatment plans around the Gottman Method, which was developed by Dr. John and Dr. Julie Gottman. This approach helps couples find healthy compromises, address underlying issues like resentment, and deepen their appreciation for each other. But what does the Gottman Method really entail, and what would you and your partner focus on during therapy sessions? Let’s explore the seven principles that represent the foundation of the Gottman Method and how implementing these principles can help you and your partner strengthen your connection and build a bright future together.

Sharing Love Maps

A “love map” is basically a deep, thorough understanding of your partner. Developing a love map entails understanding your partner’s desires, past experiences and goals for the future, what makes them happy, and their likes and dislikes. It means loving your partner for who they are and comprehending what makes them unique.

Deepening Your Admiration

Many couples who divorce end up going their separate ways because they simply don’t respect each other. The Gottman Method helps couples nurture their admiration for each other. From giving genuine compliments to expressing your appreciation for your partner, this approach helps you build your relationship on a bedrock of enduring respect.

Turn Towards Each Other

Sometimes, when you’re struggling with a relationship problem, you might be tempted to turn outwards first. Rather than talking to your partner directly, you may approach a friend or relative for advice. This principle encourages both partners to turn towards each other when times get tough. You need to be a consistent, trustworthy presence in your partner’s life, especially when times are hard—and they need to do the same for you.

Influence Each Other

Allowing your partner to influence you does not mean letting them control you and override your decisions. It’s only natural to pick up some of their opinions, interests, and preferences—and they’ll end up adopting some of yours, too! When you let yourself be influenced by your partner, and they do the same, you’ll grow closer together. You’ll have an easier time finding compromises and making big decisions together.

Fix Your “Solvable” Problems

While not every problem within a long-term relationship can be addressed with a quick fix, many problems are far more solvable than you might assume if you’re both willing to put in the effort. When you learn how to communicate in a productive way, you can tackle these solvable problems. You’ll need to start these conversations from a place of respect and focus on de-escalation if your emotions get heated.

Work Through Gridlock

Sometimes, it can feel like you and your partner are trapped by gridlock. A problem seems impossible to overcome because you can’t agree. However, there is always space for compromise if both of you are truly committed to the process. You’ll need to start by addressing the root of the problem and figuring out where you can both be flexible.

Create Shared Meanings

Finally, the Gottman Method emphasizes the importance of shared meaning within your relationship. This can range from your mutual goals for the future to the traditions you practice during the holidays. Having a sense of shared meaning brings you and your partner closer and gives your relationship a certain gravity. You can also find shared meaning in your mutual hobbies and interests or challenges that you undertake together.

Are you interested in the Gottman Method? It might be time to start working with a therapist. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for couples therapy.