What is the Gottman Method?

There are many different approaches to couples therapy. The Gottman Method, which was developed by psychologists John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman, is a particularly popular methodology. This approach aims to address several predictive factors for divorce. The Gottman’s identified four tendencies that could spell out disaster for couples: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt. They designed this methodology around seven key principles that would help couples avoid falling into these traps. Couples who are researching therapy might have come across mentions of the Gottman Method, but they may be confused about what this form of therapy would really entail. Let’s explore the seven essential principles of the Gottman Method.

The Impact of PTSD

PTSD can feel so intense that you may fear that your extreme stress levels will spiral out of control, leading to a breakdown. This fear can keep you up at night, making you feel like a failure or incompetent. You may constantly worry that your inability to manage the symptoms when they arise may hinder your personal and professional growth, preventing you from reaching your full potential. You may worry that you may lose control of your emotions, actions, and thoughts and will no longer recognize yourself. You may feel that if your trauma is not resolved, your PTSD symptoms will harm your loved ones. This anxiety may cause you to isolate yourself from family and friends. It might feel as if there is no end to the intrusive memories you experience. Know that there are various treatments for PTSD, including EMDR.

1. Build “Love Maps”

In therapy, you’ll learn how to develop a deeper awareness of your partner’s world and vice versa. This awareness is known as a “love map.” You’ll pay closer attention to their emotions and get a better sense of the ups and downs in their everyday life. You and your partner will understand each other’s stressors, allowing you to build a more supportive relationship.

2. Express Your Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated in their relationship. But sometimes, partners don’t even realize they’ve stopped expressing their appreciation for each other, especially when they’ve been together for a long time. Through therapy, you can discover new ways to make your partner feel appreciated, and you’ll also get better at accepting each other’s differences.

3. Turn Towards Each Other

Of course, having friends outside of your relationship is important, but how much time do you spend sharing your interests? Simply showing an interest in your partner’s passions can be a big step forward in your relationship. Even talking about mundane topics together can strengthen your bond. You can even learn to have fun while disagreeing on benign subjects.

4. Accept Each Other’s Influences

It’s only natural that your partner will influence your own habits, behaviors, and beliefs over the course of your relationship. Furthermore, you’ll have the same effect on your partner. In a healthy relationship, you won’t disappear as an individual—but you should be open to compromising with your partner and adapting based on their preferences. It doesn’t need to be a power struggle. Instead, you can find a peaceful balance.

5. Solve Problems Together

Learning how to tackle your problems as a team is the key to fostering a healthy, happy relationship. Rather than getting upset with each other, focus your energies on dealing with the problem. It’s not you against your partner—it’s the two of you against the issue at hand. Instead of trying to win, you can learn how to address problems in a calm and reasonable way.

6. Manage Conflicts

Conflict is unpleasant, yet it’s an unavoidable aspect of any relationship, and attempting to eliminate conflict is a fruitless endeavor. Some couples try to avoid fighting at all costs. But this is a mistake that can only lead to resentment down the road. Instead, you can learn how to overcome gridlock and work through conflicts in a productive way.

7. Cultivate Shared Meaning

Every couple builds a shared history, and drawing on shared meaning can help you make the right decisions for your future. In therapy, you can discover sources of shared meaning between you and your partner. You’ll consider what you add to each other’s lives and how you show up for each other. You can also make sense of the struggles you’ve faced together and how they’ve made you stronger.

Are you interested in couples therapy? Consider working with a counselor who understands the Gottman Method. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.