Building a Sound Relationship: Gottman Style
Most of us long to find that person that we want to spend our lives with. A partner with which to navigate life’s twists and turns. Someone who is there for us when we need them, who we can trust with our hopes, dreams and hurts. Whether you are searching for a partner, have just begun your relationship, or have been with your partner for many years, the following is a scientifically proven blueprint to a sound, healthy relationship.
The Sound Relationship House
The Sound Relationship House is a metaphor designed by Drs. Julie and John Gottman, who have studied relationships for over 3 decades.
The Sound Relationship House lays out the essential materials needed to build a sound house and uses them as a metaphor for the necessary components of a sound relationship.
The Foundation for a sound relationship is friendship, which includes common courtesy, an understanding of your partner, fondness and admiration, and intentionally sending and receiving bids for affection.
The most effective way to strengthen the foundation is through building Love Maps. This is essentially just getting to know your partner’s inner world better by asking open-ended questions.
You can build fondness and admiration by paying attention to and acknowledging the things about your partner that you appreciate, are proud of, are attracted to, and impress you.
Turning towards your partner is simply acknowledging and reciprocating your partner’s attempts to connect with you physically, emotionally or intellectually. These bids for connection can be obvious, “Can I have a hug” or subtle, “Wow, the clouds look so cool today!”
The Framing, or the load-bearing walls, are trust in and commitment to the relationship. This framework supports the overall stability of the relationship. Trust and commitment are built as the relationship grows, but come from partners’ ability to be aware, tolerant, understanding of, empathetic towards, and reliably there for one other.
The Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical
These represent the positive perspective, the overarching love and caring that protects the relationship in conflict and hard times. Positive perspective involves assuming the best of your partner, affording them the benefit of the doubt, and attributing good intentions to their actions.
The Insulation and Dry Wall
These are represented by conflict and hardships within the relationship that we like to hide away. But conflict is inevitable and healthy in a Sound Relationship. One of the best tools the Gottmans provide is the complain formula for bringing up issues in a way that doesn’t incite defensiveness. The formula is as follows, “I feel emotion, about specific situation/action . I need positive need .” A positive need is something you do want your partner to do, not something you want them not to do.
This last part of the blueprint represents the fine details, the extra purpose added by sharing and creating dreams and meaning with each other. These are built by talking about your dreams and goals as a couple, the legacy you want to leave behind and the model you want to set for the generations after you.
Stay tuned for future blog articles detailing the what and how of the building materials referred to in this article!
Further Reading and Resources